Fifth Day… Corfu, Greece

Fifth Day… Corfu, Greece

So after the long days (and nights…) the last few days, we decided to pass on the excursion that was on the agenda, and just spend the day walking around Corfu… Which was a great choice, since it was a beautiful town… We did some shopping (and found that no one took credit cards, and had to find an ATM to get Euros, since I didn’t bring that much with me…) Then we found a great hand made jewelry store that had beautiful pieces, and and bought a few really nice things… Then it was time for lunch, and we found a great little place with seats outside… Got salads and a bottle of wine, and then I decided to get something more… So I ordered sea bass, with some prawns, calamari, and octopus… What I didn’t expect was that it would be a huge platter, enough for more than two people… But it was the best and freshest seafood that I have ever had… especially the octopus, which was like butter…

Then we walked around a bit more, and headed back to the ship… Then some sunning at the pool, and I decided to go to the fitness center and do my own yoga class before dinner… Then we had a nice dinner with Mike and Robyn, and then went to see a band in the lounge… Then dancing (and quite a few drinks…) until way too late at night… and have to get up in 6 hours to go on our trip tomorrow… But had a really great time with all of the Cooper people and a bunch of other friends that stayed and danced…

Fourth Day… Sicily…

Yep… staying up so late the night before wasn’t the most intelligent thing that I have ever done… it was a bit tough to get up to get ready to go for the excursion, and I ended up having a very light breakfast, and made it just on time to get on the transfer to the dock for the trip…

Today was a day in Sicily, going to locations where parts of the Godfather trilogy was filmed… Although first we stopped at a church to see some “mummified” bodies, which really looked more like bones with clothes on… sort of weird, and not really sure why it was on the trip, but whatever… we saw something that we weren’t expecting…

Then we took a ride to the spot from the first movie where Michael sets down to ask to marry Apollonia at a bar… then off to the church where they got married… Then we got back on the bus, which was full size, and proceeded to take a drive up the mountain that even I didn’t think would make it… The drive to the first village was bad enough, but this one went over the top… I just don’t know how they can do it… but it was worth the panic when we got to the top and saw another beautiful village and two more churches that were used in the second and third movies… Then back down the same crazy way we came up, but we obviously made it safe back to the dock to catch the transfer over to the ship… Funny part about these trips… you get to meet new people the whole time, not necessarily Cooper dealers, and seem to run into them again and again… We were on the transfer with a couple from Australia that were just great to talk to and hang out with, if just for a short ride…

After getting back, it was off to the pool again, and got to talk to a few friends the couple hours that I was there… then off to get a mani-pedi at the spa, which I have to admit was one of the best I have ever had… Now that I was all cleaned up on my hands and feet, I went back to the room and rested a bit, and then since we had a late dinner reservation at 8:30, thought why not go out and use the hot tub, which no one seems to use after the pool closes (although since it is really dinner time it isn’t surprising why…) So we sat there having a nice glass of wine for an hour or so, and then it was off to get cleaned up and go to dinner… which was at the one restaurant on board that you need reservations for, and can only go once to… We had a wonderful dinner… steak tartare and crab cakes for appetizers, great salads, and a porterhouse and prime rib for the main course… and a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay with the meal… It was so much we passed on desert, and I know I will have to work out tomorrow… We watched the last few minutes of the show and then called it a night since we loose an hour of sleep going through time zones to Greece, and I have an early Cooper meeting tomorrow morning at 7:30… So off to bed, trying to be ready for the next day…

Third Day… Pompeii

I did make it up on time, and because the sea was a bit choppy, the transfers were running behind a bit and we didn’t leave until about 9… Once at Sorrento, we took a small bus (first) since it barely could get around the streets, and then got on a large bus for the trip to Pompeii… Amazing watching the driving in Italy… still don’t know how they do it without hitting anything… The roads are filled with motorcycles and cars, and are extremely narrow compared to our roads in the US… but there don’t seem to be many accidents… guess they are used to it…

The tour of Pompeii was great… beautiful day to walk around, and the tour guide was good, although the radio that we were listening on wasn’t that great… but I took a lot of pictures, and was very glad to have been able to see such a historic place… the preservation of the city was amazing… never would have thought that so much of it would be intact… After the tour, we got back on the bus and went back to the town of Sorrento… Then we had a bit of time, and had lunch with Mark and Holly at a fabulous cafe right in the square… had some great rose and a pizza that (once again) put the stuff we eat back home to shame… After lunch we walked around the shops for a bit, and then got back on the transfer and went back to the ship…

Spent a bit of time at the pool, but then decided before going to dinner I should go do a yoga class… which was interesting, since it was the first time that I have ever done a class by myself with no instruction… But it was good practice for my teacher training, since I have to learn the sequences soon anyway… and I think I got it almost exactly right… After the class, I relaxed for a little bit, and then got cleaned up and got a little to eat (didn’t need much since we had such a great lunch in Sorrento…) and then went to see the nightly show… songs from the 50’s and 60’s, and it was very well done… After the show, I went up to one of the lounges and closed out the night with the group that was there… Yep, another late night, and another early morning tomorrow when we get to Sicily… But it was fun and got to talk about some important things… got to bed around the same time as the night before, and hoping that I would be good for the excursion tomorrow…

Second Day… On the way to Sorrento…

Friday was an good day… Slept for around 12 hours, got packed up, and took our bags up to where we were gettting picked up to go to the ship… We found a great place to get a bite to eat (although it was too late for breakfast…) at a place called Harry’s Bar in Rome… Apparently a place famous people eat at, looking at all of the pictures on the wall…

After having some lobster and a nice glass of wine, we walked across the street and got on the bus… The ride was about an hour to the boat, and along the way the second (of three) busses was broken down and we picked up all of the Cooper people that were on that one and got everything and everyone on ours… Made it in plenty of time to board, and got everything unpacked before the obligatory safety drill… Then it was a quick change, and off to the Cooper introductory cocktails… Talked quite a while there, and as it was winding down, ended up going to dinner with Brad, Steve, Mike and Robin…

After a wonderful dinner, I stopped by and talked for a while, and then went up to one of the lounges to cap off the night… which lasted quite a while, and finally left around 1… Which was way too late knowing that I had to be up and ready to go by 7:45 the next morning… but it was a great day and had some great talks…

Tomorrow is Pompeii… and the weather looks beautiful…

First Day… Rome…

Well, the flight got in perfectly fine… on time, no problem with luggage, in fact, no problems at all… Other than no sleep on the plane, and starting to feel it already when we got there… But it was a good flight, and I’m just happy when there are no problems…

When we got off the plane, we had a driver run right up and offer us a drive to Rome… Thankfully, it actually proved to be one of the best things that could have happened, since we had a driver that gave us a ride that I will never forget… Down the highway from the airport weaving in an out of traffic at 150 kph, which I think is around 90-95mph… all while texting and making calls… But then the fun hit when we hit Rome traffic… apparently, there are no real traffic laws in Rome… going down train tracks passing trains, passing a half dozen cars going down the wrong side of the street, cutting off whoever and whenever it suits, and going down side “streets” that are barely wide enough for walking, all to get there as fast as possible… (fixed rate from the airport… makes for someone who wants to get you there asap… But we finally arrived safe, only wished I had taken some video…

We got to the hotel around 11:30 (which would be 5:30 back home… still no sleep…) and only had to wait for a half hour or so to get checked into the room… Hotel was supposedly a 4.5 star hotel, and it lived up to the rating… beautiful room, and the staff was wonderful… We got cleaned up and then headed out to see what we could before our dinner reservations at 6:45…

First on the agenda was the Colosseum… It was a little over a mile walk, but it wasn’t too warm out and it was a nice walk through the city… navigation was a bit interesting, since I didn’t have data service other than roaming at an absurd AT&T rate, so we went old school and used a map… which is interesting in Rome since the roads aren’t really named very well or often… But we finally saw it in the distance, and got there just fine…

Once we were there, we immediately were acousted by dozens of “tour guides”, all promising to get us in in a few minutes instead of the long line that would have been around an hour… so after talking with a few of them, we decided to pay the extra 25 Euros to get in as quickly as we could… still took about a half hour to get in, but it was faster… But once inside, we decided to ditch the tour guide and just look around by ourselves, since we had a lot to try to see…

The Colosseum is amazing… finally after so many years wanting to see it, it was nice to cross it off my bucket list and get to see it up close… After we walked around for a bit, we decided to walk to the Pantheon… got lost a few times on the way, and finally gave up and caught a cab to get us there… (Side note…. Nice thing about cabs in Rome… they are much cheaper than in the US… never had a ride more than 10 Euros, and some of them were fairly long… I think that they only charge by the km, not by time…) We decided to get something to eat before going into the Pantheon, and found a little pizzeria close by that had the best pizza I had ever eaten… maybe it was just that we were really hungry, but it was amazing… and with a glass of wine, really made the rest of the day go much better… Then we walked through the Pantheon, which like the Colosseum, is amazing to see, and to think about how old it is an how long it has been there…

Then we caught another cab (kinda tired of walking by now…) to see what the line would look like at the Vatican to get into St. Peter’s Basicilla… Funny thing about the driver… when I told him where we wanted to go, I said the Vatican… he didn’t speak -any- english, but when Brandy said Vaticana, he understood perfectly fine… must have been the “ah” at the end… Anyway, we got there and the line was at least an hour or so long, and apparently it takes a half hour just to walk through the Vatican museum, and it was already around 3, we just decide to see Vatican square, which is what I wanted to really see… Took some pictures and then caught another cab to go to Treb fountain.. It was definitely the most beautiful structure that we saw the whole day… After a few pictures, we decided that it wasn’t too far to walk back to the hotel, so we walked back (getting turned around a few times, which seemed normal by now…) and got to the hotel around 4:30… which left enough time to take a power nap before getting cleaned up for dinner…

The restaurant was only a few blocks away, so we left and got there a bit early, and waited for our Cooper friends to get there… It was an amazing dinner, classic Italian style… Plates and plates of appetizers, Proschuttio, vegetables, bread, Mozzarella, and plenty of wonderful wine… then 3 types of pasta, which were all wonderful… and finally, roast veal that was amazing… We were all pretty tired by then, and it was around 8 or so, so we said goodnight and walked back to the hotel… Only took a few minutes to fall asleep… long day and after more than 24 hours of no sleep, it felt great to finally rest…

On the way there…

So this is an interesting trip so far… Had a driver pick us up at noon, thinking that there would be long lines and maybe traffic getting to Phil airport… but… NO traffic… and NO ONE in line at the baggage check… The terminal didn’t spit out a boarding pass for me, and it took all of 3 minutes for them to get that resolved… Call out to American for making things easy…

Then, to make things even better, there was NOBODY in the TSA line… no one… Felt like I was at Harrisburg… So lots of time to have a nice lunch and a few drinks, and now just waiting to board in an hour or so…

All good so far… :)

Off to Italy…

Tomorrow I’m off on another Cooper trip… This one is a cruise around Italy… Flying into Rome, onto the Regent Seven Seas, and then cruise around and finally to Venice&… in between we will see Capri/Sorrento, Sicily, Corfu – Greece, Kotor – Montenegro, Split – Croatia, and finally to Venice… Should be a great trip, and Thursday we have a whole day in Rome… which I have always had on my bucket list…

Leaving tomorrow around noon for a 6:30 flight out of Philadelphia… I’ve heard the TSA lines are really bad, but we should have plenty of time… and it’s a direct flight, which is great, even though it is a long one…

Hopefully the flights go better than the Scotland trip (couldn’t be worse…) Guess we will see tomorrow…

And the Saga Continues…

Ok… now that I had a decent night sleep, and an amazingly good breakfast at Ruby’s Diner in the Newark airport, I can continue the story from last night… Ultimately, it was the weather to blame, but United at points helped things along… and I wasn’t the only one…

As noted, we got to Newark at 10:30 pm… And the flight to Edinborough wasn’t leaving until 11:04 (actually didn’t leave until closer to 11:40)… So there are 5 of us standing in the front of the plane that need to make the flight… all the others have boarding passes, I have to get one… The reason we didn’t get out right away was because it took them 10 minutes to get the ramp right… yep… never saw that before… Anyway, I got off and checked at the gate about my pass… and was told that I wasn’t on the flight… ??? (even though when the plane touched down I got an email that said I was, and the flight was delayed until 11… So I ran to the gate (obviously the furthest point away… you thought it would be close…?) and checked… and yep… the girl told me that I had been bumped at 10:32… So then one of the SDI (travel agents for the trip…) started working on it, but to make the next hour short, nothing worked… Another couple going on the Cooper trip actually got screwed over worse… they had been sitting there for 4 hours waiting, and had boarding passes, and were still bumped… But best of all was the couple that had been sitting there, with first class tickets, and got bumped… Now they finally got on, but had to go coach… all for the low price of $7000 each… The girl from SDI offered to give me her ticket, but United wouldn’t let that happen…

So then after the plane closed, we started trying to figure out what to do… Interesting thing was the girl at the desk was a total jerk, and just didn’t give a shit about anything… Anoer guy that was there wasn’t much better… until we got two supervisors over… then he changed for the better and became very helpful… the girl… not so much… She even told her two supervisors at one point that she would only do one more search, then she was leaving… Blew me away… I made the comment that she must be union… which was right…

But the other two supervisors did the best that they could… even though the shitty female counter person told us we would be on our own for a room, the supervisors came through and got us rooms for the night… Not the greatest, but at a Doubletree and at 1:30 am after all the nonsense, it wasn’t that bad… So off to the hotel, off to bed, and a good night rest until noon today…

Checked through security, found a United counter, and to my delight, I got a boarding pass for a 7 pm flight… and on the way to the gate, I met another guy that I knew that was on the same plane… So we have spent the last few hours talking and doing emails and texts… Only a few hours to go… finally…

Getting There Is Half The Fun

Ok… quick update… on the way to Newark (finally…) at 9:45 pm… that’s right folks, the flight hat was supposed to leave Dulles at 4 did leave at 4:30, but then sat on the runway for over an hour and then went back… but fortunately, after standing in a huge line to get to United customer service for a half hour or so, they announced that the flight was back on… Good thing is that the original booking on a 7:55 flight to Edinborough got changed to a 9:45 flight, which got delayed until 10:35… Whew… But there are at least 5 of us on this little prop plane that is bouncing around in the weather that are hoping that we can make it to the next flight on time… if not, things go south quickly… no flights out tomorrow at all that we know of…

So I’m crossing my fingers, and we will see what happens in the next 15 min or so… and I really don’t want to sit in Newark all night and all day…

(a few hours pass…)

Instead of being in a plane over the Atlantic, I’m in a crappy hotel room in Newark… to damn tired to type the story now… look forward to the explanation tomorrow…

(btw… screw the title…)

Off to Scotland…

Hmmmmm… I really didn’t know that it was almost two years since I wrote anything… Not that there has been that much going on… lol… (okay… If you know me well enough, you know that the last year a lot of things changed… But we won’t go into any of that now…)

So anyway, here I go again, off on a trip to Scotland (courtesy of Cooper Tire) Going to be staying at Gleneagles, which I haven’t been to since 86 or 87, never can remember which… Right now I’m sitting in Dulles drinking a Bloody Mary and waiting for the second leg of my convoluted trip… Harrisburg to Dulles to Newark to Edinborough… And no, I didn’t plan that one… Travel agent apparently took me too literally when I said I didn’t want to fly out of Philadelphia… (My second least favorite airport in the US, second only to JFK…) I didn’t mean through, just didn’t want to start there… Whatever… At least it gives me time to sit sweating in a hot bar in Washington/Dulles and type this…

So far so good though, although I found out how expensive it was to have a bag 5# overweight to check through, along with a golf bag… Although the guy at the counter did ask if I wanted to take anything out, which I declined since I didn’t want to lug a heavy carry-on around all day… But now I feel like an idiot since as I am typing this I realized that I could have just transferred a few things to the golf bag and saved a chunk of cash… Oh well, that’s what I get for not being a good traveler when I’m by myself…

So I get to Scotland around 8 am, (3 am EST, which is all that I’ll care about at that point…) Might just take a nap at the airport and wait for Skippy to show up a few hours later, as he did fly out of Philadelphia… Instead of 13 hours in airports, he only has about 8…

So hoping for not to much rain, and at least one round at St. Andrews… Lots of friends to catch up with, and at least it won’t be hot… Should be a blast…