What time is it?


Tuesday, June 29 – Wednesday, June 30

Laurel and Randy traveling to Brugge via TGVThe trip was marvelously uneventful. Both legs of the flight departed on time and arrived early, which defied the recent history for this route.  Because we didn’t have a lot of confidence in when we might arrive at CDG, we didn’t make reservations for the train to Brugge. It was probably just as well we didn’t because the line for the ticket agents was gi-normous and many of the folks in front of us seemed to have all sorts of transportation issues.  After an hour or so, we did get our tickets–albeit for a couple of hundred extra Euros due to lack of available Eurail Pass seats–and by 10:00 CEDT we we’re aboard the TGV and headed to Brugge via Lille and Brussels.

Brugge clock towerOur hotel in Brugge was right across from the clock tower featured in the extra-violent movie In Bruges(shoot first, sightsee later). We arrived there around 13:00, but our room wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours, so we stashed our luggage and headed out for a walk around town. Brugge is a Euro tourist Mecca and I do believe at least 50 percent of the continent is on holiday and most of them came here. Even on a Wednesday afternoon, the place was packed. After some chocolate window shopping, a little lunch and a good Belgian bier, it was check-in time.

Our normal rule is that regardless of how swacked we are, it’s best to stay up until local ni-night time. That rule was jettisoned passing through the door to our room. After a quick shower to wash away 18+ hours of transit grime, the lure of a refresher nap called. Ahhh.

Special cocktails at Martin's BruggeA couple of hours of zzz’s and it was time to rejoin the tourists in the town. Our room at Martin’s Brugge included “special” complimentary cocktails, four to choose from, each identified by a color. Laurel had a Yellow (lime, cane sugar, Mandarine Napoleon and vodka)  and I had a Green (pineapple, Pisang,  Safari and cognac).  After a bit more walking, dinner at an outside table that included the requisite frites, and another pass by the central square, it was pushing 23:00 and once again, time for bed.

To take advantage of an airfare deal, we left a day earlier than we had originally intended, so Brugge was a late addition to our plans. On a previous trip, we’d driven through the town, thought it looked like a fun place to explore, but it was fully booked up, so promised to return. Return we did and it proved to be a great start to our Euro holiday.

Getting close to ORD

Over Kansas, via AA’s wi-fi and my iPod: looks like we’ll make our connection for the Paris leg with no problems. Just found out we have a little personal admin stuff we need to address while we’re traveling. Hopefully we can take care of it in Chicago.

IPod battery life with OS 4 sucketh!

Editor’s Note: This was the last ever transmission from my iPod that was boosted in Brugge.

So far, so good.

Despite months of pre planning and a relaxing evening, we still wound up a bit rushed with “out the door” stuff. Anyway, PHX-ORD flight seems to be operating OK.

Only “Oh shit!”, aka “Oh merde”, thus far is Laurel forgot her recently cleaned, polished and refurbed ring.

Next up is sandles with sox…

Could it be I’m getting like WAY old? When traveling in a countries where English is not the primary language, I have this rule about never eating in a restaurant that offers English menus. It’s much more fun to be where the locals are. Plus the food is generally better and cheaper.

I guess this all flows from a general suspicion of things touristy. I must be weakening. Today I booked reservations for the lift to the summit of tower Eiffel. For all the times I’ve walked from Jardin du Tracadero to Champ de Mars, I don’t think I ever had the urge to stand in multiple queues to ascend to the top of the tower.

Actually, it should be quite lovely and I’m rather looking forward to it. Our reservations are for 9:30 pm on the day following the finish of the le Tour. Several years back, I tipped the operator of the giant Ferris Wheel, a.k.a. la Grande Roue, at Place de la Concorde, 10 francs and he gave us a private car. It was quite romantic and very beautiful.

It shouldn’t take this much

If it takes five bound folders, several dozen filed emails, a couple of really complex spreadsheets, a set of OneNote files and a SharePoint site to plan your Euro trip, you MAY be a techno-weenie.

Actually, this is far more pre-planning and reserving than is the norm for our trips, but when your destination is one of the world’s premier ‘manifestations sportives’, it’s a good idea to mark your spots.

I’ve been watching FlightAware for our PHX-ORD and ORD-CDG flights for the past few days and I must say, the timeliness of both segments is not wonderful. Nothing we can do about that, though and once we’re checked in, it’s up to the folks at AMR to deliver us.

T-4 days and counting!

BTW, this post is also testing out my new Blog-to-Tweet link. Follow via @handyrandy.

Mireille et Robert

It’s hard to believe, but one week from today we’ll be on our way. There’s still a little catching up on the DO list, but all-in-all I’d say we’re in pretty good shape. The one exception to this is that we never got around to seriously working on French language skills. The recovery plan for this is several daily viewings of the French in Action episodes I have stashed on the DVR. Valérie Allain is like sooo hot!

Anyway, I’ve got a few Euros being delivered today (Skank of America’s exchange rate and fees are rather onerous). Eurail passes, passports, maps, etc. are at the ready. It shouldn’t take a SharePoint site to manage our travel docs and plans, but that’s what we’ve got.

Back to the DVR for plus de leçons.

Tour! Here we come.

Planning for the Tour de France 2010 and More trip is pretty much complete. This is, after all, the real retirement celebration kick-off and we need to do it in style. Key destinations thus far include:

  • Fly to CDG-Paris and take the TGV Brugge.
  • Rotterdam for the TDF prologue and the departure of Stage 1.
  • A quick train trip to Brussels to catch the finish of Stage 1.
  • Watch the departure of Stage 2 from Brussels and then head to Copenhagen for a few day in Scandinavia.
  • Fly to Berlin for a few days exploring the both sides of what was once the wall. Laurel actually drove through the east, back when it was under the thumb of those godless Commies.
  • Head to Dijon, via rail, with an overnight in Strasbourg (it’s a long trip).
  • Five nights at an apartment in Dijon. Our hostess, Coco, will pick us up at the gare. I’m really looking forward to checking out the neighborhood bistros, charcuteries, etc.
  • Drive to Lyon and then on to Bordeaux. Lyon is one of my favorite French dining destination.
  • In Bordeaux we’ll catch the finish of Stage 18 and then watch Stage 19, the Bordeaux to Pauillac individual time trials and then take the TGV to Paris for the grand finalle.
  • In Paris, we have reserved seating on the Champs-Élysées. The seats are advertised to include ‘refreshment’ which I assume will include a bit of vin blanc.

Surprisingly, the Dollar/Euro rate is heading in the right direction for us. We still have 3 weeks until we hit The Continent, but I doubt it’ll rates will change that much.