The train ride was easy and uneventful. They served a breakfast snack right after we boarded in Cologne, and a lunch snack just after Brussels. Since we were in the Premium class, we were able to fill out a form and pre-request a taxi for €7 extra. It was nice because the taxi line stretched from outside all the way into the middle of the station. We took the quick taxi to the new hotel, Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet. It’s near the Bastille Plaza, and in fact we drove right through it on the way to the hotel. I planned to take a quick nap and then go out, but I realized I would just skip everything if I didn’t go out right that second. I consulted Google Maps for the best way to get about, and I decided on going to the Louvre since it was a straight shot without multiple line changes. I turned left out of the hotel and walked about 10 minutes to the Reuilly – Diderot Metro stop. The ticket machines were easy to switch to English and accepted credit cards, though I had to use my pin. I barely have to use it since it still […]
I’m back in Medellin, this time in the city proper instead of Rio Negro. I’m so excited because Elle and Max will be here in just 2 days to visit me! I decided to go with a slightly nicer hotel this time, the Four Points Sheraton, and so far I really like it. I’m going to move into a suite tomorrow so that we can have a door between us and Max for his naps and when he goes to bed earlier. I can’t wait!
I’m at the end of what was supposed to be a 3-day trip here but ended up being an overnight because the mission changed. I’m at a hotel near the Rio Negro airport that serves Medellin. The place I’m at is kinda neat; Max would love it if he could stay here because there’s an upstairs bedroom that overlooks the main floor. Max doesn’t know it yet, but he and E are coming to visit me in about 2 weeks when I come to Medellin again for a week. Anyway below me are some pictures of the place. After 4 months in a city it’s nice to see this view outside the room!
Yesterday the 4th floor (below me) accused me of spilling water on the floor because their apt. smelled humid. My roommate verified for them there was no leak or spill in my bathroom. Apparently today they had a repairman in and our maid let him in our apartment because now I have no toilet. You think they would have told us before doing something like that.
More on my trip to Utrecht in November: Did I mention I was in a fairly nice hotel? I was going to spend a total of 2 nights in Utrecht, and I didn’t have time to do a ton of research, so all I did was do a search of hotels rated 4 stars and above in Utrecht and compared that search with my daily hotel limit. The Park Plaza came in under the limit and seemed to be easy to find. An additional factor is that I was initially denied a rental car authorization and I planned to take the train from the airport. This hotel is right at the Utrecht train station. As you can imagine, searching for “Park Plaza” will get you thousands of hits from companies all over the world, but after about 30 minutes I was able to find the link to the Park Plaza I wanted. It seemed like a decent hotel but said there was no availability for the days I was going. Another quick search led me to Bookings NL, where I picked up a room for the low, low price of €104 the first night and €150 the second, for a […]
I forgot to mention yesterday that the Shore Excursion office never got back to me about the post-cruise excursion. I had to go back during their evening working hour, re-explain what I wanted to do, and re-authorize them to charge us $55 per person for the tour. Looking back, we could have done it differently. We did it the right way because 1) we’re honest and 2) we wanted to guarantee that we’d be with Ted and Joelle. Purely for information purposes I can tell you that we could have put Joelle and Ted’s extra bag tags on our luggage to have it carried to their room at the Divani Caravel and then slipped on to the tour–more on that later. We got up at 7 so that we could vacate the room before 8. Luckily the standard breakfast was still being served, so we took full advantage of the cereals, fresh fruits, and omelet station. Our bag tag color was called at about 8:30, and then the fun began. We were crammed into a people mover for the short ride to the terminal where we were alternately told to wait, start identifying luggage, and move out because the luggage […]
Well, last night really did turn out to be a late one! After the nightly entertainment was over yesterday, Ted and I wound up in the casino watching the 5 or 6 people there play Blackjack and Roulette until the tables closed at 1:30. As we walked out of the casino, we struck up a conversation with a couple from England who were playing one of those machines with a pile of coins inside where you have to drop your coin so that the sliding drawer eventually pushes money over the edge. (Know what it’s called? Please leave a comment or send me an email. ) The couple said they regularly play these kinds of machines and that the one on board paid off a lot better. One thing led to another, and before long I had $20 worth of quarter tokens and was dropping away. After two malfunctions where the technician moved the money around inside, I saw that I had a good chance of getting the wrapped up $20 bill on top of the pile of tokens. It was slow going, but the machine kept paying off enough for me to keep playing without reaching into my bucket […]
Yeah I know, what a cop-out, right? According to the reviews I’ve read, the Hotel American is 100% Italian. From what I’ve seen it looks like a great place, and we splurged a little (as if we’re not spending enough already on this trip). A double room with a view of the canal will run us €190 a night, with a 5% discount if we pay in cash. I’ve heard many good things about the American including that it has a free internet terminal in the lobby, so you may get some updates from there. Then again, I may handwrite everything on the trip (how 20th century) and then transfer it to the web when we get home.
Once again we decided to stay in the same hotel as our family after the cruise, especially since they will be in Athens 2 nights. We will be at the Divani Caravel Hotel, which seems to be a fairly nice hotel athough a little ways away from the main Plaka area. Discount hotel companies don’t seem to do too much business with the Caravel because every place we found showed the same price as the hotel website. We wound up booking through Travelocity. They say we’re getting a Superior Double room with a view for €136.17 a night, but naturally as soon as I entered my credit card information the confirmation no longer shows the words “superior,” “view,” or even “room,” so we’ll see what we get once we’re over there. By the way, I neglected to make a Piraeus to Hotel entry because in the end we’ll probably wind up taking a taxi there if we can’t get in with the paying passengers. Supposedly the metro runs from the port to the center of town, but I haven’t found anyone who could confirm it.
Ellen and I have talked about doing a Mediterranean cruise, with or without friends and family, since we found out we were moving to Spain. Ted and Joelle thought it sounded like a great idea, and in the summer of 2002 we started looking at our options. We wanted to have a Spain departure so that they could come visit our house first, which really narrowed down the cruise options. Royal Caribbean has a 7-day cruise that starts and ends in Barcelona, but we were having trouble finding a good price. In November 2002, Joelle went to a travel agent and found out about Orient Cruise Lines. She was able to get a 7-day cruise from Barcelona, plus airfare, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, and shipboard credit for less than the cruise-only portion of Royal Caribbean. The travel agent was kind enough to get us a similar deal on the cruise-only portion, and when all was said and done we paid about $3000 for the two of us. We’re booked in a cabin with a porthole on the lowest deck–room 3033 to be exact–but I’ve read that if the ship isn’t full we can expect a free upgrade. We originally […]