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[Travel] Behind the (former) Iron Curtain

Iron_Curtain_map.svg I had never been to Eastern Europe before this trip. The closest I had ever been geographically was Vienna (as in, the border with Hungary was nearby). I think I looked at Eastern Europe as kind of scary, and I was possibly a little Xenophobic about it because “they use a different alphabet” (though not all of Eastern Europe does….some just use a heavily accented Latin alphabet!). It probably didn’t help that I grew up in the 80s, when the Cold War was winding down, but I was still young enough that I really had no idea what was going on outside of New Jersey, let alone the world, and even in 1990 my German classroom still had maps of East and West Germany, both flags, etc. And even when we started studying European history, my class didn’t go into the present, focusing more on the Holy Roman Empire than anything else. My HS had a requirement to take two years of US history, but only one of world, so I never took a modern European history class and if I’m honest, I wasn’t even interested in learning anything until within the past 10-15 years.

When we started planning this trip, I was still really nervous about travelling to the Czech Republic. Mostly because neither Tim or I spoke Czech and they use a different currency from the Euro (They are in the EU, but not the Eurozone) and maybe there was still a lingering fear of the unknown in general. I had only ever travelled in countries that either spoke English or German or I knew enough of the native language to be polite (ie – French and Spanish speaking countries where I can manage to say things like hello, please, thank you, and do you speak English). But Czech? Totally foreign. Even looking in the phrasebook I bought left me with a puzzled look on my face.

I soon learned that because we were on the border with Austria, a lot of the people we would interact with spoke German, and many knew English, too. The few places where no one spoke anything other than Czech, we made do with pointing and trying to pronounce things in the phrase book!

After we griced (chased!) a Waldviertelbahn train to Gmünd, we noticed that we were very close to the Czech border and were in fat parked in an area where they probably used to have people pull over for inspection. So we decided to go on a short walk across the border just so I could say I had been in the Czech Republic, even though we would be returning in a few days to ride a train on the JHMD.

ceska

When we were getting close to our apartment, we also noticed how close we were to the border on the map. When we mentioned it to our landlord, he told us that when he was a child, if you got too close to the border you could hear the border agents cocking their guns, and they would occasionally hear gunfire. You didn’t want to kick your football too close to the border, that’s for sure!!

We’re also pretty sure that when we went on a walk in the woods behind our apartment, we must have crossed the border at least once. After we visited the JHMD (I’ll blog on that later), we needed to get rid of some Czech Kroner because neither of us had realised how cheap things are in the Czech Republic. I had exchanged £50 before we left and was given something like 1600 Kroner. We had intended on buying our tickets with the cash, but then we decided to book them online instead to make sure we got seats so we really had quite a bit to spend. We then assumed Lunch would use most of it, but Lunch only came to around 300Kr. We decided to wander into a grocery store (Lidl), but we still only spent the equivalent of £13. But at least I have some Kroner for our next trip. I’m totally ready to visit Prague now!

There will be more about our visit to the JHMD in a few days!

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***
Iron Curtain Map from Wikipedia

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Austria] Road Tripping Days .5, 1, and 2

roadtrip Yep. That does say 20 hours of driving!

I know I mentioned it before, but I’m pretty sure we were crazy when we organised our trip. 20+ hours of driving?

But it wouldn’t be the first time Tim and I have done a long trip – our trip right after our wedding was driving from my home in PA to my cousin in FL, which takes about 21 hours and when we went on our belated honeymoon in Autumn 2010 we drove to Austria. Still though, it is a lot!

We decided to break it down into several days of driving, and even started our trip around 7PM on the Sunday right after Tim had worked a 12 hour day shift. No, I’m not kidding. He got home around 6, and we loaded up the car and headed to Ashford where we had booked into a single room at the Travelodge for the night. We have booked into these family rooms before and have always found them to be spacious, but this time we had a very small room and there was only about 6 inches between our double bed and Mom’s single! Fortunately, it was the only night we were all staying in one room. We showered that night and went to bed around midnight with the alarm set for 6AM. Our channel crossing had a check in time of 0720, and we were 20 minutes away.

Checking into the Eurotunnel was easy and quick, and so was getting through French immigration……in fact, that nearly didn’t stamp my mom’s US passport (Tim and I travelled on UK passports)! Tim had to tell the I/O that we had an American in the car. He soon stamped her passport and we were on our way into the queue, where we sat for about 20 minutes before being directed onto the train.

The train was a lot faster than I had thought it would be. Probably because the last time I went by rail, I was on the Eurostar and travelled between London and Paris. It hadn’t dawned on me that we would only be on the train to go through the tunnel under the channel and the trip only took about 30 minutes. The rest of the time was mostly loading and unloading!

I also was surprised that you stayed sitting in your car and there were no snack bar facilities, but I also think that was du to my confusion on the length of the journey. Also, if they had to have coaches for passengers as well as the carriages for the cars it would have to be a VERY long train, or only take half the number of cars.

The rest of the drive on our first day was long and uneventful…..until we got diverted off the main road due to it being closed and could’t seem to find a way back (this clip wound up missing when I was doing the video, so I might do a separate one later) onto the autobahn! Our original hotel booked was called Schlossblick and was located in Schwangau. The check in deadline was a FIRM 2000. I kept watching the ETA on the sat nav (really, Google maps) and started to panic the closer the ETA got to to 8PM. I had read the reviews on Booking.com and saw that the owner does not give you any leeway, even if you ring ahead to tell her you will be late. As much as I was looking forward to having a balcony overlooking my favourite castle, we decided to cancel the booking around 4PM, as you could only cancel for free until 5. Fortunately, the booking.com app on my phone (I swear, I don’t work for them, I just really like their site!) helped me to find us a new hotel – this one with a 24 hour front desk. It was a SmartHotel, and we booked it about 2 hours before we arrived.

Of course, this couldn’t go off without some kind of hitch. The receptionist spoke perfect English, and I can speak German, but we still semed to hit some kind of language barrier and it took me nearly a half an hour just to check in. First, he said I didn’t have a reservation, then he tried to put the three of us all in the same room (at the rate for two rooms!). Finally, we sorted it out and we had rooms located next door to each other. Then, when we got to the room, I discovered someone had left their clothing in the wardrobe! After taking the clothing back to the front desk, I returned to the room and crashed for the night. I don’t know what Mom did, but Tim and I did not stay up very long!

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and got on the road to Schwangau and Neuschwanstein!

Credit goes to Tim for this shot #neuschwanstein

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Ultimately, we decided against doing the castle tours – The Maria bridge was closed, so no opportunity for those amazing photos, but you still got dropped off at the bridge. We remembered it being a 20 minute uphill walk to get to the castle, plus walking around the castle and up the stairs and decided with Mom’s knees to skip it, and instead we wandered around Schwangau for the morning and early afternoon. Tim and I wandered down to the Alpsee for some gorgeous photos of that “toothpaste green water” as Tim calls the Alpine water.

Never leaving!! #bavaria #alpsee

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

We still had about 5 hours of driving to do, as once we were in Austria we still had to drive through most of the country to get to our first official stop! We encountered more road works, closed roads, and temporary roads. Fortunately, I was in contact with our landlord and was able to give him updates on when to expect us. We finally arrived around 7PM, long after the shops were shut for the night, so the landlords offered to feed us and we were treated to a smorgasbord accompanied by local beer. They spoke English, and I was slowly getting my German back….but Tim did much better than me!

After a pleasant few hours with our landlords, we retreated back to our apartment where once again, we fell into bed.

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***

Map image at the top screenshot from Google.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Travel] Austrian Road Trip Summer 2016

austriaschedule We might be a little insane.

After we got back from our trip to Austria last October, we immediately began planning a trip back, but this time, we were going to take my mom along who had always wanted to visit Austria and who would be visiting us for part of the Summer. I spent many MANY nights researching all our options….flights, rental cars, trains (while Tim and I have his BR privs, Mom would not), etc. I finally worked out that it was actually going to be cheaper by nearly £1000 if we drove our car across and road tripped because flights for the three of us were coming in at nearly £500 and it was very expensive to rent a car for three weeks!

I used our Tesco club card points to book the Eurotunnel for the trip over, and I booked the cheapest ferry (DFDS) for the return trip. We knew we were going to have a stop to visit Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, and started making a rough idea of things we wanted to do and then picked regions to search for apartments as after renting apartments and self catering in October, we have decided that is the best way to go if you don’t want to tow your caravan or sleep in a tent as it gives you the freedom to be in charge of your meals. You can eat out if you want, but you have the options of staying in for all three meals. We usually had breakfast and dinner in our apartments and Lunch out.

We tried to add in some down time, but our first week was turning out to be VERY busy as we wanted to visit two railways (one of them twice) on specific days (due to their schedule) and day trip to Vienna. We also had my mom’s birthday while we were visiting, and I had decided to surprise her with the Sound of Music tour on her birthday, so we knew we had to be toward Salzburg by the 3rd. We also wanted to ride steam on the Pinz again, which had to be done on a Thursday, and the Zillertalbahn was only running steam Wednesday – Sunday. Tim also wanted to visit another line on one of the Saturdays, but after realising he would have to drive for 9 hours in the one day alone (as Mom and I would have taken the train to our next destination to get checked in on time) he decided against it and we decided to make a stop in Germany at the Chiemsee since we were cutting through it anyway.

Our schedule wound up looking like this:

Day .5 – Tim worked until 6pm, then we drove down to Ashford for the night in a Travelodge
Day 1 – Eurotunnel and driving. Originally it was going to be all the way to Schwangau, but we wound up stopping in Kempton instead.
Day 2 – Neuschwanstein and Schwangau and then driving to Weitra for our first apartment (Urlaubsnest)
Blog post for days .5, 1, and 2 can be found here
Review of Urlaubsnest can be found here
Day 3 – Waldviertelbahn and hopping across the Czech Border [Blog link]
Day 4 – Driving in the Czech Republic and JHMD
Day 5 – Vienna
Day 6 – Waldviertelbahn
Day 7 – Sound of Music Tour (Mom and I)/ Mondsee (Tim) and moved to Haus Reider in Pfarrwerfen
Blog post for Day 7 can be found here
Day 8 – Tim and I explored the area in car and on foot
Day 9 – Freilicht Museum (video)
Day 10 – Murtalbahn
Day 11 – Pinzgauelokalbahn
Day 12 – Salzburg
Day 13 – Chiemsee and Drive to Mayrhofen (Gasthaus Zillertal)
Day 14 – Exploring the local area
Day 15 – Brenner
Day 16 – Innsbruck
Day 17 – Zillertalbahn
Day 18 – Too rainy for much, so we had a lazy day and went on a walk
Day 19 – Drive to Goe, Belgium (Yellow House)
Day 20 – Ferry and drive home

Other related blog posts & videos:
(video) Austrian Grocery stores
[Travel] Grocery Shopping

Or watch all the videos here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDUaor7uXZQfPu6Un77YGHRkLMlPgKFp-

The countries we were in:
France*
Belgium
Luxembourg*
Germany
Austria
Czech Republic
Italy
Netherlands*

(*drove in only)

with the exception of 2 single overnights at the beginning and a single overnight at the end, we stayed in three apartments and spent about a week in each.

As I write blog posts and post videos, I’ll be revisiting this post to add links to everything….I’m hoping to blog it all. I was a little lax in blogging our October trip, so I’m hoping I will do better this time!

***
The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Travel] Making a Car First Aid Kit

20160419_222832 Having a first aid kit in the car is a legal requirement for some European countries and it’s just a good idea in general. You can purchase pre-made kits (and we have a cheap one of those too just so we can fulfil the legal requirements) in Halfords that will comply with the applicable laws, but I have kept a personal first aid kit in the car since 2010 with things that we specifically need or use. Also, some countries have a weird rule that the first aid kit needs to be sealed, so this was just easier for us. And having it has come in handy on multiple occasions! I decided to get our current kit out of the car in preparation for our road trip to Austria to check the expiration dates and give it an update before we go again. No surprise, a lot of it had expired as it was put together in 2010! So now it’s updated, and here’s a video about putting together a first aid kit:

The nice thing about making your own first aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one is you can create it around your needs and your likes/dislikes. If you have products you like better than other for first aid, if there’s a pain relief product you like better than another (or tummy remedy!), or if there’s a product you know you’ll need based on your own medical needs…it can go in your own personalised first aid kit. The type of box you use doesn’t matter, but it should be sturdy and waterproof. Alternatively, you could keep everything in a zippered bag (and it would probably squish better). I took a cardboard box we had waiting for the recycle bin and I covered it with clear contact paper. You also could use clear packing tape if you don’t have any contact paper and I added a red cross to the front to make it easily recognisable as a first aid kit. We also always keep it under the front passenger seat so it’s always in the same location and can easily be grabbed or we can tell someone else exactly where it is.

The total cost for putting this together was probably around £20. I bought all the value range first aid items from shops like Tesco, Wilkinson’s, and Asda…and they work. You don’t NEED fancy brands for first aid. Or if you’re really attached to having a certain brand, you always have the option of buying those. Probably the priciest item was the 4head stick!

When I first went to make the kit, I solicited advice from my friends who are first aiders, EMTs, and nurses on what they felt were important things to have on hand in a first aid kit, so this list is medical professionals approved!

Our first aid kit contents in no particular order:

-Box of plasters/band-aids
-Blister plasters
-strapping tape
-micro-porous tape
-gauze pads
-elastic band
-paracetamol
-ibuprofen
-diarrhoea medication
-soap box for above medicine to keep it dry
-gaviscon
-antiseptic wipes
-antiseptic ointment
-sudocream
-medical scissors
-tweezers
-antibacterial gel
-rubber gloves
-burn ointment
-spray on plaster
-4head headache gel
-duct tape (I fold over a piece several times to have a small bit, not a whole roll!)
-nit comb
-sanitary towel

And don’t forget to check with Halfords or the RAC or AA what other requirements are needed in each European country you will be driving through, as they can vary. You also should sign up for temporary European breakdown coverage (we got the highest level of coverage that not only will bring your car back to the UK for you, but give you a rental car to finish out your holiday and provide a way to get you back home at the end. Pricey, but worth the peace of mind) as well as additional coverage through your car insurance. For example, our insurance only automatically covers a few days abroad, and adding coverage for the three weeks only cost £42. Also make sure you have signed up for your EHIC card as well before you go (this is subject to change depending on the terms of Brexit). If you are not a UK or EU resident, make sure you get travel insurance before you go, because you never know! We have a multi trip world plan that costs us around £100/yr, but you can get single trip plans for as low as £8. You can read more about other requirements for driving abroad in my previous post from 2011.

I also always try to carry a mini first aid kit in my backpack when we aren’t in the car just with a few plasters and some antiseptic wipes to clean and cover a cut until you get back to the car.

Obviously, this first aid kit isn’t going to fix all medical problems that arise, but it should cover enough basics until you can get somewhere else to get proper medical attention. And I think the Halford’s ones even include a thermal blanket, but you also could pick one up at the pound shop if you wanted to include one of those for emergencies too.

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This post has not been endorsed by any of the products mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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I Passed My Driver Theory Test!

driver I applied for my Learner’s Permit back in October 2014 because I wanted a photo ID before my trip to the US the following January (Jan 2015) that wasn’t my passport. I might be 36, but I surprisingly get carded in the US. And, of course, I planned on learning how to drive.

In the UK, learning how to drive and getting your license is a three-part process. Well, more than three when you add in everything you need to do.

Step 1: Apply for your provisional. This is really easy and you just go to the Post Office for a form, and send off the application with the fee, a photo of yourself, and your ID (passport if you are foreign). You can send them a self-addressed postage paid envelope to return your documents (I used one with tracking). It only takes about two weeks.

Step 2: Get car insurance. If you have someone else in your house who own a car, ask them to add you as a named driver. All Tim had to do was ring up his insurance (Directline) and it was around an additional £100 to add me for the year and the only difference is I have a higher deductible than Tim. If you have US driving experience and it hasn’t been forever since you had a valid license in the US, some UK insurance companies will accept your no claims bonus, but I haven’t had insurance in the US since 2008 so I didn’t bother. It probably also helped that I’m older than 25.

Step 3: Book lessons. As an experienced driver, I contacted a few local driving schools to ask them what options they had since I know the basics of driving and needed to learn 1) manual transmission and 2) how to drive on UK roads/how to pass the test. I found a school that was willing to offer me the same introductory rates as a new driver, but start me right away behind the wheel (instead of explaining “this is the brake/this is the gas/etc”).

Step 4: Book your Theory test. Apparently, the DVLA has been seriously backed up and in some places it’s taking up to three months just to schedule the theory test. When I went online to schedule mine, I had to schedule it for five weeks away from the date I was booking it because it was the first date available. I would have liked to have taken it sooner, but it gave me plenty of time to study.

Step 5: The actual test for getting your license in the UK has two parts – a written part (Theory) and a behind the wheel part (Practical). Both parts have several sections to them. You MUST pass the theory test before you can even schedule the practical, so step 5 is STUDY. Even if you think you know…study. Tim bought me the study books in a three pack for Christmas, but they are available at WH Smith and online from TSO for about £20 for the three books. I also paid for the official apps for my Android tablet (the guide, the theory test, and the hazard perception test), which I think cost around a tenner for all three, and in addition to all of that, we also bought the Hazard Perception DVD (I had to use Tim’s desktop since my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive!) Overkill? Actually…..no. I read (most of) the book (I also had a free download on my Kindle I read), and then started in on the practice tests on my tablet. A lot. I failed some, I passed some. It was FRUSTRATING! I even practised the tests while I was soaking in the bathtub! And the night before my test, I took 10 tests (failed one, but all the other ones were passed with plenty of room to spare)

The Hazard Perception test is a separate section to the Theory, and a separate score. You need to pass BOTH sections in order to have passed the theory test, and if you fail one, you retake both. The Hazard Perception is a series of scenarios and you have to click when you see a developing hazard. Sort of similar to that simulation from Driver’s Ed in the 90s with the brake pedal and the ball rolling into the street. In the Hazard Perception test, you can score up to 5 points on each scenario, but one is worth 10 (it’s a double hazard). The later you click, the less points you get…but if you click in a pattern or the computer thinks you are clicking on everything, you don’t get *any* points! There is an app for this, but since you will be taking the test at a computer with a mouse, I felt it would be better to practice on a computer. The DVD cost £15 at WH Smith, so all in all we spent around £45 just on study aids. But this test is tough, and it only has a 50% pass rate for most testing centres! And since you have to pay £23 for the test each time you need to take it…well, you want to study as much as you can and use as many resources as you can. They even have the practice tests online for free, so if you didn’t want to pay for as many applications or books, you could take the tests online (but they don’t have the Hazard Perception test online).

Step 6: Take (and pass) the Theory test. You get given a set of instructions to follow the day of your test, and these include not bringing anyone with you to the test (Sorry Tim!), turning your phone off, and locking your phone, watch, tablet, handbag, jacket, and basically anything else you have with you in a provided locker. The only thing you are permitted to take into the testing room is your provisional license and the key to the locker.

The test starts out with a short 15-minute maximum practice session just to get you used to the way the test is conducted. Then, the computer gives you a timed 1-minute break (But you can skip ahead) before starting the theory test. The test is 50 questions long, and you have 57 minutes. You can flag questions you are unsure of and then at the end you can either review your entire test or just review your flagged questions. At the end, the test will also tell you if you failed to answer a question, so make sure you check! You need to get at least 43 questions correct, so I flagged the questions I wasn’t 100% on and at the end I had only flagged 5. If I had all 5 of those wrong, I still would have passed the test. But I went back and in the end I only had 2 questions I was unsure on. After you click the final submit button, it gives you a three-minute break (you can skip this or take less than three, but after three minutes it will move on to the Hazard test).

Just like the Theory test, the Hazard perception test will give you an example/practice test, then a one-minute break before starting the test. The Hazard part is 14 clips and each clip is probably around a minute long. You just click when you see the hazard developing.

When you’re done, you get up and leave the room and your print out with your score will be waiting for you with the receptionist.

2016-03-09 15.06.27

And check out my score! *one* question wrong on the Theory, and 65/75 on the Hazard perception! They break down the score for you, so I know I scored 9 points on the double hazard, and then mostly 5s and 4s, with only 2 points on two of the hazards.

Passed my theory test with flying colours!!!!! #drivingtheorytest #drivingontheoppositeside #dvla

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Step 7 is of course, scheduling, taking, and passing the Practical. Watch this space!

***

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Happy Campers

Happiness is travel*

Tour our caravan here:

(just in case it hasn’t embedded, you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/cgqVuxAFtrg. I can’t see the video when I preview my blog post, so I have no idea if it’s me or wordpress or youtube that’s having the problem….)

My husband and I are about to be the proud owners of a 1995 touring caravan! Last Summer, we borrowed a caravan from Tim’s parents and over the weekend they offered to sell it to us as they don’t feel they will use it again, and they know we really liked using it. So as soon as we can find storage for it and take possession of it (and erm, pay them!) it’s ours!! This isn’t to say that we don’t like tent camping….I LOVED our holiday in Austria in our tent. Our two weeks in Wales in a tent? Not so much thanks to the rain. But last year having the caravan was fantastic. It was so nice to have a place that was dry to sit in/eat in/read in/sleep in, and a place where you could turn on HEAT when you were soaked through! It was also nice to have dedicated electricity for things like a kettle and fridge and oh yeah, we had a stove. The caravan even has a toilet with a shower, but neither one of us needed to use it (we were pitched up close enough to the toilet blocks we just walked over to those even in the middle of the night).

So, now that we have a caravan, I thought I would start looking at photos of caravans online to get some ideas for better ways to organize things (permanently) as well as give it a little personalization. Pinterest is full of great ideas and woah are there some amazing caravans out there! Check out this one**:

purplefuzzymittensonflickr

Now, that’s a little too busy for me. I also liked this one***:

cornbread-and-beans-blog-0271

But that one is probably a little too pink for Tim!

I think it will take awhile to actually do anything to the caravan, but if I can organize myself and get it done, it could become quite nice. A few things I think we need to consider for the future include painting the interior walls, making or getting new curtains made, and re-covering the cushions. I don’t have any ideas on what colours we’ll use yet, but I’m sure we will pick something we both like. I’m sort of leaning towards red, but the kitchen area is green and I wouldn’t want it to look like Christmas year-round! I can’t see us doing any of it until it’s absolutely needed, but there’s no reason we can’t do a little decorating in it now.

One thing I learned from all my browsing, is that a caravan needs cushions:

myvintagecaravan^

cathinspiredcaravan^^

Doesn’t that one look like it belongs in a Cath Kidston catalogue?

Cushions, I can do. We already (of course) have our pillows in the caravan, but it might be nice to be able to put the pillows away in the wardrobe during the day and have a few throw cushions on the two sofas. I know how to sew, so I could make my own out of fabric scraps, or I could buy pre-made covers or even whole cushions. I’m going to have to think about this and pick something neutral for now and then jazz things up later. Maybe I’ll buy some cheap cushions for now that can be recovered later.

I did, however, get some great ideas for what to do with the (very small) amount of wall space. Most of the caravan is made up of windows or cabinets, but there’s bits of wall here and there.

7d30412ff4d5935fb05f418cd458cfd1^^^

I think maybe a few framed postcards from where we travel would look cute on the wall. I read on an RV site that you can use sticky backed velcro to keep things attached to the walls while travelling, so I’ll have to do that with the pictures.

I also want to take a cookie sheet and make a backsplash for the wall between the cabinet and fridge, and then paint it with chalkboard paint. We collected a few magnets while we were away last year and I kept sticking them to the tea tin so we wouldn’t lose them. And having a little board where we could stick up important things (like tickets) or make notes on would be helpful.

I plan on purchasing a bunch of command hooks as well and will have a play to see where the hooks can go. I already purchased some over the caravan door hooks (ages ago!) so we can at least have some hooks on the inside of the bathroom door instead of tossing the towels on the toilet and the bathrobes in the bottom of the wardrobe.

And the outside! Some people go all out on the exteriors as well!

dotty+

purple++

But something tells me Tim would not let me paint our caravan purple OR polka dots. So I’d settle for some decals. We could get a train, or some tracks, or even some music notes. But we need to do something to personalize it.

We have lots to do before we start thinking about that. We have to take possession of the caravan and clean out anything Tim’s parents want back/we don’t want and add in some of our own camping gear that will live in the caravan, plus make a list of things it needs. We need to practice hooking it up to the car, too. We’ve only hooked it up a handful of times, and we had help from Tim’s dad a few of those times! There’s loads of instructions for what to do when we get to a site from setting the brake, hooking up the electrics, getting the water pump working, hooking up the waste water receptacle, turning on the gas…..

Ah, I can’t wait. Time to research local storage facilities….and try to plan a weekend away!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated below and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

*Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
**Photo credit: PurpleFuzzyMittens
***Photo credit: Cornbread and Beans Quilting Co
^Photo credit: My Vintage Caravan
^^Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
^^^Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!
+Photo credit: Shannon Christensen
++Credit unknown, found it on Pinterest. If this is yours, let me know so I can credit you!

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RAC to the Rescue

Tim and I made a detour to IKEA in Essex on the way home from Shoreham-by-Sea. The cold I was developing on our last day was bothering me, so after we left IKEA I started reading on my Kindle to keep me distracted from feeling miserable. I asked Tim to stop at the next services for a loo and I turned on the interior light to continue to read. All of a sudden, the interior light went out and so did all the dashboard lights. Tim tried to put on a turn signal and discovered we also didn’t have turn signals, and turning the wheel became difficult. Fortunately, we were right at a services stop, so we barely made it into the Shell station before the car gave up.

We waited a few minutes and tried to turn back on the car. Nothing. So, we went inside the Shell shop, used the loo, and then tried again. Nothing. We went back into the Shell shop to ring the RAC and were told it would be a 75 minute wait.

We trudged back to the car and bundled up in layers and got back in the car. We tried using a torch (US: Flashlight) to read by, but the torch soon ran out of batteries. Fortunately, the RAC van showed up promptly and the RAC man got to work.

He suspected it was the alternator, and said that if he could source a part after hours he could put it on and it would cost £150. We agreed and a waiting game began as the RAC representative got on the phone to try and track down a part. They found the part, but needed someone to bring it out to us. Apparently this is a volunteer job done by the auto supply people, so if someone doesn’t want to answer the phone, they don’t have to. After an hour of waiting, we gave up. Our RAC man needed to clock out at 10PM, so he had to ring to have a tow truck brought to us, since we were looking at two hours back to our home, and then another two for the RAC truck to get back to it’s base. That was going to take us another hour long wait, so we decided we had better at least pick up sandwiches in the Shell shop.

After getting our food, the tow company rang us and told us the driver was putting on his boots and it would be about 20 minutes or so, depending on traffic.

The tow arrived around 10PM, and we walked into our house around midnight.

The plans were for the RAC to come back in the morning and tow us over to our regular mechanic in Lincoln. When the RAC arrived in the morning, he offered the same offer as the man last night did – that he could get the part and fit it and we’d only have to pay £150. We agreed, and off he went to pick up the part and I came back into the house to stay warm.

I glanced out the window several times and saw him working on the car. When he finally put the hood down, I came back outside to discover we still had a problem. The issue wasn’t the alternator. The RAC man determined that we had a faulty wire, and that was causing the problem. We wouldn’t have to pay for the alternator he tried to install, but he would have to tow the car into Lincoln to get it looked at by the mechanic.

It cost £450 to fix because after they fixed the wire, the alternator was fried and they gave us a genuine Skoda alternator (which was £280 instead of £150). *sigh*

But kudos to the RAC for doing everything they could to avoid us needing a garage. And thanks to the Shell station attendant, too. He turned up the heat for me when I came back into the shop several hours into our wait, and asked me if I needed a blanket (I was wearing a skirt). He also chatted with me and told me that I “sound like a Northern girl” and he thought I sounded more North than American! LOL.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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UK Road Trip


[map © Google]

Last weekend, in addition to spending 10 hours on the train going places, we apparently drove over 800 miles and spent over 17 hours in the car….and that’s not counting the three times we got stuck on the M25. (below image is slightly off, as I used Lincoln instead of our village)


[© Google]

Ouch.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Driving on the Continent – Things You Need to Know

Like many Britons, our idea of a holiday abroad is packing up the car and going across the channel (via ferry, rail, or tunnel) to mainland Europe (called “the continent”). One of the first things you notice as you drive off the boat is the cars are driving on the opposite side of the road from the UK and the drivers sit on the opposite side of the car (so American drivers, it’s the same side of road and car that we’re used to). This can make for some very interesting driving on small country back roads as the passenger tells the driver “you’re too far over!”, and even more fun on the motorways – particularly if you get passed by a driver who looks over and sees the person in the “drivers seat” (left side of the car) napping or reading a book!

Europe has some regulations for driving that you must follow, including carrying appropriate safety equipment with you. You can even purchase the required items on the ferry if you have forgotten them, but most auto supply shops (like Halfords) should stock everything you need.

*The first thing you need to do is pick up a pair of headlamp beam converters. These are round stickers you stick on your headlights so that the beam of light coming from them doesn’t blind other drivers, since UK headlights point in a different direction from European cars. These stickers are removable, and you should try to remember to remove them as soon as you return from Europe. I think our car might still have the stickers on it. Ooops!

*The second requirement is to display a GB sticker on the back of your car. Most post 2001 tags include the GB symbol on them, however this does not exempt you from needing the sticker in all countries. You can purchase this as a magnet if you do not wish to have a sticker permanently on the back of your car.

*Most European countries also require a reflective vest if you will need to get out of your car on the motorway. Some countries require this only for the driver, some require it also for passengers. A good idea is to make sure you have enough vests to cover everyone in your car. There are no requirements on the colour or style of vest, only that you must have one. If you work in a profession where you need a vest, you can use that one or you can even pack along the vests you wear while cycling if you already own some.

*Another item MOST European countries require is a warning triangle if you are stopped on the motorway.

*Lastly, you also should carry a first aid kit. Not only is it a requirement, it could come in handy. If you already have a first aid kit in your car, now is the time to check it and make sure it has plenty of supplies and that the adhesive hasn’t gone off on the plasters (US: band-aids). Your first aid kit does not need to come from an auto supply shop or be specially marked for Europe. Just like the vests, you can use a first aid kit you already own.

There are also some regulations that are country-specific. For example, if we had been going to Austria between November and April, we would have needed to fit snow tyres to the car. A great website for checking the requirements for the countries you plan on visiting is The AA’s Driving Requirements by Country page.

So…we’re ready to drive our UK car in Europe, right? Wrong. You also need to call your insurance company to make sure you have European coverage. It’s best to do this at least a month before your trip to make sure you have copies of the require paperwork, but some companies can email you the documents you need to print. Make sure you carry these papers with you.

It also is a good idea (but not necessary for European travel) to contact your emergency breakdown provider (AA, RAC, etc.) and enquire about services while in Europe. Tim and I were able to get coverage for Western Europe for 14 days for about £65 from the RAC. Pricey, yes, but better than getting stuck somewhere with a broken car. The RAC services we signed up for even included a hotel stay if we needed to wait for the car to be repaired, and would pay for getting our broken car plus ourselves back to the UK if it came to that.

In addition to getting your car ready for European travel, it’s a good idea to make sure you have valid travel insurance and if you are a European resident, a valid EHIC card. An EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance, so it is wise to carry both. The EHIC card is free to European residents, including those of us here on spousal visas. The website states that you need to apply via post, however if your UK spouse has an EHIC card, they just need to call 0845 606 2030 and request a card for their spouse.

Oh, and don’t forget to take along your paper counterpart to your driver’s license. You probably won’t need it, but I always like to be prepared.

You also might want to pick up a road map for the countries you plan on visiting. We purchased a Michelin map from Amazon that covered Germany, Austria, BeNeLux, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Tim already owned a map book for France, and then we also picked up a large-scale Austria map while we were in Austria, since it had on it the Austrian names for places and had some of the off the beaten path places we wanted to go.

So, we’re ready to go to the continent. Keep reading this week as I start to (finally!) write about our trip in September.

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The Thin Blue Line….

I live in a relatively small village. Our village touches the next village over due to housing/businesses spreading out, and so we share a police “force”. I think there are 4 of them, and their office is a little building next to the neighbouring village’s village hall.

A few days ago, we received our village’s monthly newsletter (late, due to the snow!) and I discovered on the Police’s note that they now had a blog set up for the area where they will be posting local crimes, so I added it to my RSS reader, figuring it might be handy to know what’s happened locally.

Today, they posted a ” Persoanl [sic] Safety Warning”. The warning apparently originally came from the Northants Police, but the top of the blog post says it was emailed to the poster “by a member of my family”. The incident supposedly happened along the M3 at the Fleet Services.

I’m reading this warning, and it talks about a woman stopping for petrol and going in to pay and having the clerk tell her there is a man hiding in the backseat of her car.

It made me pause and think hang on, I’m sure I’ve seen this before. I logged into my old email account from before I was married and ran a search, and sure enough, when I still lived in PA, I had received a very similar “warning” via a forwarded email, so I went to snopes.

And, sure enough, the whole thing is made up, and the story is as old as 1967!

It bothers me that our local police force would send out a rumour like this. People will see that post and panic. Way to go, local police.

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We’re Back!

We’re back from our two-week European road trip! We had a GREAT time and loved camping. Photos are slowly going up on Facebook….between the two of us, we have over 2500 pics to go through, but Tim has way more than me (since he took more when we rode trains than I did!)

Here’s a breakdown of what we did:

Day .5 – Drove down to my friend Lou’s house to spend the night
Day One – Got on the ferry from Dover-Calais. Drove across France, Belgium and into Germany to stay in Oy-am-Mittleburg for the night
Day Two – Neuschwanstein, then drove to set up camp in Zell am Ziller at Camping Hofer
Day Three – Kristallwelten and Innsbruck
Day Four – Zillertalbahn
Day Five – Achenseebahn and Achensee
Day Six – Drove across Austria to set up camp in Nußdorf at Camping Gruber along the Attersee
Day Seven – Steyrtalbahn
Day Eight – Vienna (by rail!)
Day Nine – Murtalbahn
Day Ten – Salzburg
Day Eleven – Ybbstalbahn and Mariazellerbahn
Day Twelve – Long drive into Germany, overnight near Köln
Day Thirteen – Drove back to Calais, decided to take an earlier boat instead of another overnight and we arrived back in Lincoln at 12:30 in the morning.

I still have to finish up posts about Wales, then I’ll start in on Austria, but I do promise to blog about everything!

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UK Road Trip 08 Part IX: Rainhill

[The exhibit mentioned in this post comes after the posts that will be written, but as it was all Rainhill, I included it in this post.]
For Tim’s long weekend in December, we decided to head back to the west coast and go back to Liverpool to do some of the tourist things, and to head to Blackpool. We decided to book a hotel out of town and take the train to the two cities, and Tim happened to pick Rainhill by default of the hotel in that town having an open room!

Rainhill, however, has an interesting history of it’s own. In 1829, a competition was held in Rainhill to pick the type of steam engine that would be used on the newly completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway. 10 locomotives were entered in the contest, and one-by-one nine of the engines were disqualified or forced to drop out. The Rocket was the only locomotive to complete the trials.

In 1980, for the 150th anniversary an exhibit was opened as part of the Rainhill library and features models of three of the engines, as well as a diorama of the event itself. The library exhibit is free to get in to, so Tim and I actually wound up going on our last day in town. It was actually really interesting to read all the stuff about the trials and to see some of the models.

Tim and I left with 5 prints of the event and a few books off their sale table for less than £2 before we headed back to Dunholme, with a stop at IKEA on the way!



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Fast Update

I’ve been awake since 3:30 this morning with a sore throat and I’m about ready to go back to sleep for a bit, but before I go, here’s a few photos and video from the most recent road trip. I’ll have a longer write-up and the rest of the photos later on in the day or week, depending on how I feel!

“best of” photos on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=65789&l=e3597&id=522022159

Videos on YouTube:


Waves crashing


North Yorkshire Moors Railway


North Yorkshire Moors Railway


Rescue Helicopter drill

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UK Road Trip Part I: Lincoln and Leicester

We started out in Tim’s hometown, Lincoln, to run a few errands and then we were off on the road to Leicester (pronounced ‘Lester’). Tim gave me the choice of going to see the castle or going to the science center. I picked the science center, so we headed over there only to find we were five minutes too late for the last admittance! :(. Next door was the Abby Pump House that had been turned into a museum, so we poked around in there for a bit and learned all about how bathing and toilets have changed over the centuries and saw a giant steam powered water pump. We wandered a little outside, and found a (yellow) TARDIS! They locked us in, so we had to go the long way around back to the car in the rain/wind that already had destroyed my umbrella earlier in the day.

We got back on the road, and checked a map for towns close to our next stop, and we had the choice of two. I picked Leamington Spa and Tim located a Travelodge on the map…..unfortunately, after about a half hour, we still hadn’t located it. Fortunately, I spotted a Best Western along the road, so we checked in there for the night and FINALLY found a pub for dinner, called the Copper Pot.

We turned in fairly early, in anticipation of an early start the following day.

Photos:



There was a TARDIS in Leicester!


Tim and me

More photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/leicester/

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I really love the old classic comedy movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, but I was beginning to feel yesterday like I was a part of the film….minus the sharing hotels with strangers and setting things on fire, of course.

Part of this entry I wrote yesterday while waiting in Winnipeg, the rest I wrote this morning.

12:07CST
I’ve made it as far as the “holding pen” for US bound persons. There’s wireless, but neither Captain Jack nor Gwen can seem to gain access to it. Jack will connect, but never bring up the access page, and Gwen brings up an access page that wants me to log in with my Telus account….something I don’t have. 🙁 Ah well.

My day started out on a VERY bad note. Actually, let me backtrack to last night. I’m not sure if I’ve spoken of my immense arachnophobia on this blog yet, but suffice it to say – I have it in the worst possible way. Anything other than daddy long legs completely freak me out to the point where I sometimes even cry.

Last night I went to carry up the dirty litter and got the bag stuck on a loose nail, so after I got the bag out of the house, I decided to grab the swiffer to sweep all the litter into the basement, where I planned on then using their basement vacuum to get it all up. Except that while I was sweeping off the steps…TWO large black spiders (the size of a US nickel including legs) popped out of a hole and terrified me to the point where I lost my balance and fell down the steps. Not a good thing when I still had some cleaning to do. I emailed Sarah and Joe to let them know what happened, and Sarah told me not to worry about cleaning the rest up.

Anyway, so cue this morning.

My flight out of Dauphin (on a 12-seater prop plane!) was at 7:50. The airline confirmation said to arrive an hour ahead, which made it 6:50, and I decided I was going to call for a cab around 6, figuring on it arriving to pick me up at 6:15 and I’d get to the airport between 6:30 and 6:50.

I was ready to go by 5:45 and had everything packed including my laptop, so I decided to just start giving the cats some good-bye love (which Quincy ignored, Casper was indifferent to and meowed, and Hobbes climbed onto my shoulder), and call the cab company. Sarah told me to use Parkland Taxi, as they were on the other side of the highway. I called around 5:50 and got a recorded message that told me the hours were 6AM til whatever time at night. Wow, glad I didn’t need a ride earlier after all. So, I chatted with my mom on Skype for a bit and tried again at 6 on the nose. Same message. I tried at least three more times and STILL got the recorded message. I was sort of starting to panic. Fortunately, I was able to load the dauphin website on Captain Jack and got the number for Dauphin Taxi. Located a bit into town from Sarah and Joe’s, but they answered the phone and I had a cab by 6:20. My taxi ride was $13 though, so I’m not sure if I had to pay for him to come GET me too or what as the airport wasn’t that far away!

Anyway, we arrived at the airport before the counter person was even there to unlock the door. I think the cab driver wanted me to stay in the cab and let the meter run, but I saw a picnic bench so I told the driver I’d wait there for it to open. As I was paying the driver, the person with the keys pulled up, so I didn’t have to wait outside after all.

While waiting for the flight to leave, I met someone who is some type of Government person. He was pleasant, and we had a nice chat. Soon, it was time to barod the plane and about a half hour later we were landing in Winnipeg.

Two other women on the flight with me who needed to go to the International part of the airport offered to share a cab with me, which was really nice. One of the women was headed to South Africa to visit her family and it was going to take her 2 days and an 11 hour layover in London to get there! (and I complained about my 18 hours?)

Before I continue, I want to add in my little rant about this airport business in Winnipeg. The airport we flew into and the International airport are in the same compound yet if I had taken a cab alone, I’d have had to have shelled out $10-12 for a cab plus tip/baggage handling. To essentially GO AROUND THE BLOCK. Why don’t they offer a free shuttle between the two? Or even a shuttle for a $5 fee or something like that? All they’d need is a 15-passenger van or something. Just seemed ridiculous. In the end I only paid $5 anyway because of sharing the cab (he got $5 from me because I wanted to give him $4 and hold onto my loonie, but I accidentally handed him a toonie and a loonie and didn’t want to grab the loonie back out of his hand, but wanted to give him more than $3 for my share).

Anyway, back to my travel story.

NWA wouldn’t let me check in. Well, she said she could, but then I’d have had to have gone though to the Customs screening right away and been forced to wait in the “pen” all morning where there isn’t alot of food options…but yet if I didn’t check-in, I was able to go upstairs to the main airport….I didn’t quite understand why I couldn’t have checked in for the flight, gone upstairs and then come back downstairs to go through customs, but whatever. I had to drag my suitcase around with me upstairs. I went into a small souvenir shop and picked up a thimble for my neighbour and a few other items (and a really cute purse/bag for me that had pockets on the front the perfect size for my LG9900 and N810).

Then, I went back downstairs to check-in, and the people ahead of me were being a pain. THEIR flight wasn’t until 4, but they were checking guns (eek!) and obviously couldn’t carry those around the airport. So, the counter person had to spend some time trying to get them onto the earlier flight that I was on. (oh joy!)

Surprisingly, it was very easy to get through everything. Checked my bag, got through customs with a grand total of ONE question (“What did you buy in Canada?” “a bathing suit, some gifts for family, and some candy”), and even security was a breeze.

I’m typing this from the lounge though becuse I needed to make sure TSA didn’t do anything to FUBAR my laptop…they ran a freaky wand over the top, bottom, and then opened it to run it along the inside. I asked the woman what it was for and she explained it was to check for any chemical residue. I asked her if she needed me to power it on, and she said no. So, laptop owners can be re-assured that TSA is not out to get us with taking laptops internationally.

Okay, my second leg of my trip starts in about 20 minutes, so I’m going to save this and shut down. Perhaps Minneapoilis will have free wi-fi I can grab…at the very least, I know Philadelphia does!

***

I got so sick on that flight. I was seated at the back of the plane right next to the turbine (I think that’s what it’s called),and I guess the back of the plane is like the back of the bus and I got airsick for the first time in my life. When we got to Minneaplolis, I booked it over to the connecting gate and explained to the guy at the counter that I wasn’t feeling well, could he move me closer to the front of the plane. He said “If I have it, you got it” and moved me to row 5. Then, I spent about 20 minutes walking all over Minneapolis to try to find PLAIN bread/bagels to eat to try to calm my stomach, and finally settled on tea from Caribu Coffee.

The flight wasn’t bad. Row 5 happened to be the first row after first class, and I guess the counter person put a note that I was ill because I got lots of attention from the flight attendant. She brought me ginger ale while we were waiting to take off, and when they were serving first class their meal, brought me a dinner roll. She also told me if I wasn’t feeling well I could use the first class bathroom and could get up even if the seatbelt sign was on.

At Philadelphia, it was a mad dash to get my baggage and try to not have to wait for the R1. Fortunately, our bags came out in record time and I managed to make it onto the 8:39 R1….and then I had problems. See, apparently the Zone 5 ticket I purchased 2 months ago was no good on the R1 line because it didn’t say “CCP” on it, and the conductor wanted me to buy another ticket from her at $7. The problem was, I only had $4 in US Currency. The people who had been with me on the plane and made the mad dash with me didn’t even offer to make up the difference, which I thought was kind of rude, but typical for Philadelphia. Anyway, I explained to the conductor that I only had $4 and asked if I could give her my bad ticket AND the $4. She told me no, and said that she would take my not good ticket “this time”.

I had to wait at 30th street for about 2 hours for my Amtrak train. There were loads of creepy people around at that time of night, but the Cosi offered free wi-fi, so I was chatting to a few friends. Finally, we were able to board the train and I was headed home!

We arrived slightly early, and I think I walked in the door at home at exactly midnight. Mom and I stayed up until 3 in the morning talking!

I shouldn’t be awake right now, I sort of feel like a zombie. I have a lot to do today though. Will was acting a bit weird around my suitcase, so I want to empty it out and febreeze the whole thing because I’m sure he smells strange kitty.

I was going to add some photos from yesterday, but my camera is in the living room, so I will do a separate photo post later in the day.

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Google Maps Lie!

My mom drove me to the Philadelphia airport this morning. We don’t often go there, as I recently have been flying out of BWI, but when PHL is cheaper we go there since we live sort of between the two (or at least, equidistant). We printed directions off Google even though we were kind of familiar with the route.

Google Maps lie! An 11.6 mile stretch starting with the Rt 100 exit is actually more like 20+ miles. You have to be either familiar with the area or have a good sense of direction to know that there are three right turns not mentioned AT ALL in these directions. They aren’t new roads, so I’m not sure what Google Maps problem is with them. Basically, when you get off at Rt 100, you’re really on Rt 113. THEN you turn onto Rt 100, followed by a turn onto Pottstown Pike, and at one point you actually have to turn back onto 322 to get to 202. I don’t see *any* of that mentioned in the directions, do you?

Moral of the story? Make sure you have a real map in your car for a back-up, and try to figure out a way of verifying your directions before you go! Especially if you have to reverse them on your own for the way home! Mom wound up going a different way home because of all the turns not listed…oh, and id I mention that Rt 100 was closed in the opposite direction? Why doesn’t Google Maps update for those kinds of things?

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