Archive for the 'Travel' Category

In Orlando

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

I’ve been in Orlando for a couple of weeks now.  Given the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub, it’s not been an easy time to be on holiday.  Of course, it shouldn’t be easy to forget the events and there are reminders everywhere.  The staff in the hotel are wearing Orlando United t-shirts, everywhere I go there are signs and messages about the tragedy, and this morning I was asked to take a picture of a couple going to one of the funerals.

It’s a time for sorrow.

Cold in Summer

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I have goosebumps on my arms.  I have tried switching off the air conditioning but it’s tenacious and refuses to obey my instructions.  When I arrived at my hotel last night the air conditioner was set at 67 F (19.4 C).  It felt like a fridge in the room after the warm air outside  I had already spent a large part of my day on a plane being really cold and would have liked to be able to sit in my hotel room without getting into the bed for extra warmth.

Recently I spent quite a few evenings rehearsing in community halls in Japan.  It wasn’t easy, as I became so hot dancing, but they only use air conditioners once the temperature in the room gets above 28 C (82.4 F), and that only happened on a couple of occasions.  There is a “Cool Biz” campaign in Japan that runs from May to October to encourage businesses to set their air conditioners at 28 C (82.4 F) to limit the use of electricity.  This means that men have stopped wearing ties to work in the summer and that cooler clothes are used.  But I’m in America where the people around me are sitting in chilled rooms wearing t-shirts and shorts – something the Japanese wouldn’t really consider for work.  The are also carrying cardigans and jackets, because it’s cold inside.  The last time I went to the cinema in America, during the summer, I took a blanket!  It’s ridiculous.

I’m going to be in America for quite a few weeks so I’m going to have to come up with a way to keep warm while indoors.

Aircraft Food

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

This morning I was offered a cooked breakfast on my flight from Belfast to London.  I know aircraft food can be terrible but normally I can recognise the food.  I thought I was getting scrambled eggs but I wasn’t sure when I tasted it.  It had a very smooth texture, was a very light yellow in colour, and had no real flavour.  After reading the food label I decided not to eat it because it was only 66% egg!  The rest of it was rapeseed oil, buttermilk power, cornflower, salt, white pepper, and lactic acid.  Thankfully I have been able to buy real food at the airport.

Travel Delays

Monday, May 30th, 2016

I have rarely been delayed when flying out of Tokyo.  But on Friday the runways of Haneda airport were closed because of an engine fire on a Korean Air flight.  Inside the airport this information was not given out.  At first we weren’t given any reason for the flight delays and then there were announcements about runway closures and air traffic control problems, but nothing specific.  I assume they think that passengers will panic if they hear about a problem on a plane.  Of course, most of the passengers knew anyway, thanks to the wonder that is the Internet.

The delays wasn’t as bad as I feared and at one point I was hopeful that I would make my connection in Frankfurt.  But once we got to Frankfurt the plane couldn’t land as that airport was closed due to a storm.  We ended up being flown to Leipzig where we refueled and waited to fly back to Frankfurt.  Once we got to Frankfurt there was the usual chaos of hundreds of people with missed flights not knowing what they were supposed to do.  The staff at the airport were not that good at giving instructions and I ended up queuing in the wrong place for a while.

I did eventually find the right place and queued for my hotel voucher and for information on when my flight was rescheduled.  It is not pleasant trying to do this after being on a flight for more than 14 hours.  But at least in Europe they sort these things out.  If I had been in America I would have been told that the airline was not responsible for the storm.  They would have rescheduled my flight, but they would not have sent me to a hotel.

By the time I got to the hotel they also had a large queue of people waiting to check-in.  It was midnight, 22 hours after I had left home, when I sat down to eat dinner.  It was a rather strange buffet meal with lots of things I couldn’t identify.  I was a little disappointed, as the airline had told me I had 30 EUR for dinner, to find out I could only use it on this buffet and couldn’t have a la carte items, room service, or even anything to drink.  I was hungry though so I had an odd schnitzel like thing and some rice – hardly anything that should cost 30 EUR.

The hotel room was lovely and I did manage to get five hours sleep before having to get ready to go back to the airport.  It is horrible wearing the clothes that you travelled in for a second day, but my suitcase was in transit. The airline paid for taxis to and from the hotel and I got to experience the speed that people drive in Germany.  I don’t mind that they drive fast, I would just like them not to use one hand to hold a mobile phone while they are doing it.

In many ways the rest of the trip was uneventful, and I was incredibly glad to arrive in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.  Though not overly thrilled that I then had to get to Belfast, but at least the bus ride through the country is beautiful.


Friday, May 27th, 2016

I am finally starting my 2 month trip.  The packing took longer than I wanted.  It’s no fun trying to work out what clothes to put in one suitcase when the weather is going to range from 6 C (42F) to 36 C (96F).  I’m at Haneda Airport and I’m already concerned that I’m going to need to buy a coat in Belfast.  It’s 21 C (70F) in Tokyo at the minute and I’m a little cold, probably because it’s also raining and I got wet on the way to the airport.

I don’t have room for bulky clothes for the cold.  Northern Irish summer is not hot, but I decided that being cold was better than dragging a second suitcase around the world.  I may regret that.

Travel Highlights

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

I spent 76 days of this summer travelling.  I realise that 80 would have been a better number but I was very glad to get home.  I find it strange how quickly I get back into my home routine and how distant my trip becomes even when I’ve only been back a couple of weeks.  Thankfully there are a few things that still stand out.

I went to Legoland in Windsor with family.  My great-nephews loved everything about the park and the hotel.  Getting them out of the reception area of the hotel with its pit of Lego proved to be difficult.  They kept thinking that the hotel reception was Legoland and couldn’t comprehend that there were so much more to see than a Lego pit.

Marty and the Shark

Marty and the Shark

I do like animals and I got to see quite a few during the summer.  I got to feed sheep in Windsor, and they have the softest muzzles.  Mind you, I didn’t enjoy feeding sheep as much as Marty did, it’s a wonder we ever got him to leave.

My great-nephew feeding sheep

My great-nephew feeding sheep

I also went to look for a mythical creature.  But although we didn’t actually find Nessy I did have an amazing time in the Highlands of Scotland and I really want to go back.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Loch Ness, Scotland

I was in America three times during the summer.  The area surrounding Salt Lake City was much more beautiful than I was expecting.  Actually the trip reminded me just how vast and varied America is as I also got to spend time exploring Pennsylvania.

Like every trip I ended up eating too much food as I don’t really get the opportunity to cook while travelling.  I ate the most amazing lobster at Marc Forgione in Manhattan.  Food featured heavily in my trip to New York as I discovered how easy it was to book restaurants using Open Table.  Now that I’m back home I’ll have to eat less.

I have no plans at the minute to travel again this year but I have a feeling that will change.




Dear J

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Dear J, single of Manhattan,

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation tonight and your contemplation as to why you might be still single in your 30s.  I know you didn’t ask for my advice, but here is some anyway.

  1. Asking your date questions about themselves is great but you really shouldn’t answer the questions for them.
  2. If you do decide to let your date speak, it’s a good idea to listen.
  3. When taking a date to a restaurant you should know something about either the restaurant or the cuisine.  Describing guacamole as “the stuff on green sushi” and using your phone to look up the other foods does make it seem that you put no effort into choosing the restaurant.
  4. Making racist comments and offending 1.2 billion people is probably not a good idea.
  5. Bringing up S.T.Ds and not seeming to understand that you get these from having sex is just odd. (You really can’t catch one just by visiting a country.)
  6. First dates are not the time to give a lecture on how you expect your future children to behave.
  7. Making comments about the speed that your date eats, and your concerns about how they will look in the future if they keep eating like that, is not endearing.

Yours, K, who wishes she could tune out background noise.

The Search for Nessy

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

I finally managed to get to the Highlands of Scotland.  It was remarkably beautiful. I had been told it was like Ireland, but the landscapes are vaster, the mountains are higher, and the glens are wilder.

I sold the trip to my friends by describing it as a hunt for Nessy, but she was notably absent during our trip.  Mind you, Loch Ness is impressive all by itself and doesn’t need a mythical monster for it to be worth a visit.

Loch Ness, on a beautiful summer afternoon

Loch Ness, on a beautiful summer afternoon

Niseko Trip

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

For the first time in years Marty isn’t working over Christmas so we thought we would go away.  I do love snow at Christmas time so we are spending a few days in Niseko village.  We plan to ski, snowboard, go snow shoeing, ride a snow mobile, and hopefully take a sleigh ride with a reindeer.

Reindeer at Niseko

Reindeer at Niseko


Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I travel a lot and have gotten really good at packing. But I still suck at unpacking. Mind you I’m not sure that there are unpacking tips.  It’s a boring task that involves making sure everything is put away properly so that I can be good at packing for my next trip.   I’ve been home nearly a week and I’m not finished.  The cables and chargers will have to wait until tomorrow as the six currencies that I sorted through this morning have killed my desire to sort out anything else.

I’m sure I’ll be finished before I have to fly again next Monday…