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Sat
2
Jul '22

Trip Report: Grand Canadian Adventure – Vancouver To Whistler To Seattle

Starting to wind up the Grand Canadian Adventure. Another night in Vancouver before heading north. But first we have to retrieve the car:

And back downtown to the Ramada on Granville:

We were SERIOUSLY early to check-in since our train was on time, so Dan went to explore, and I took to a chair in the lobby.

And then the fun began. Houseless transient with only one shoe on, came in sat down, started eating, and spitting, and throwing things on the carpet. THAT cleared out the lobby.

I sat in the car for a bit, headed back in when the police showed up, the staff was professional (as was the officer), and they comped me breakfast next door at The Morrissey.

Just what I need, another full-size American breakfast! And this is the half order.

He even tried to find the fixings for a Caesar, but the liquor was locked up. I tipped well because he tried (and it was a free meal).

Shortly after, the room was ready (and the lobby sanitized):

Was a little surprise that they had THREE different kinds of full strength coffee for the morning:

Popped down the block to a thrift store I know (as did my train car attendants). Dan had found a bunch of stuff that he wanted. Alas, nothing for me:

Took a bit of a nap, but by mid-afternoon I was ready for a snack – off to Delish by the WorldMark that I usually stay at:

Happy hour burger and happy hour couple of dollar discounted wine, and a good book.

With taking our own paths today, Dan and I’s feeding schedules were seriously out of whack. He went out for Korean Chicken about a mile away. I eventually wandered to the sushi Dan had found for his lunch.

Not bad for about $22 CDN with tip. About $17 USD – and came with miso soup! I provided the wine.

Lazy day with checkout at 11am, headed up to Whistler.

With a stop in West Vancouver for lunch…

Dan got the salad sub, me, not so much.

Back on the road:

Stopped at Nesters in Squamish for supplies for the condo, and check-in almost had our room ready a couple of hours early…

And dinner was had!

Nice to be able to cook for ourselves – and cheaper!

And breakfast as well!

Dan headed off early in the day for the mountain to explore the Mountains (Blackcomb and Whistler). I was grounded by a swollen foot from something I hit on the train.

I was able to hobble to the store an pick up a couple of things:

And I did get a dog at Zog’s:

And some random shots around Whistler Village:

Dan, on the other hand, got some BEAUTIFUL shots up on the mountain.

He even ate at my favorite (but not cheap) restaurant on the mountain – Christine’s:

That would be the Wagu Beef Burger. Yum. I miss eating there.

Not being up on the mountain this year isn’t the easiest for me. Pre-Covid I was up on the mountains three or four times a summer. Sigh.

But, enough complaining – I’ve got dinner to cook.

The leftover chicken, some peas, some pasta, some Alfredo – enough to feed and army!

And another breakfast that looked like the first!

But with a Caesar!

Returned to the city early because of an immovable appointment, but we had to condo booked through Friday, so no dreaded 10AM checkout – more like3PM.

Photo stops on the way off the mountain:

Stopped in North Vancouver for a glass of wine, and to see Will and Solus’ new two-bedroom condo, down the hall from their current one-bedroom model.

After a quick stop for duty-free and a burger, it was back home before dark, barely.

Guess it’s time to have my brother visit since I’m way overstocked with rum!

Another fun adventure completed!

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Sun
26
Jun '22

Trip Report: Grand Canadian Adventure – Saskatoon To Vancouver

Breakfast at a reasonable hour at the hotel:

And then we were off to the train station!

This is our route for the next couple of days…

And after a couple of hour delay….the train:

And a thank you our train car attendant Tyler, who happily snapped my picture.

Actually, we have two attendants. Tyler is in training under Josh.

We are staying in the Monck Manor car…

And here is our initial room (Cabin For Two in VIArail speak) setup:

After we got rolling, I ask if they had any tables available – something I learned from a previous trip – and they did!

MUCH BETTER.

And they even made us lunch and dinner reservations – what a great crew:

Turkey wrap for Dan, an interesting version of Ginger Beef for me.

Starting off in the prairies, it looked like this…

And we have access to one Dome/Activities and a bar car dome at the end of the train known as Park Car which is bullet shaped at one end that is open to the public after 4pm. Earlier it is just for the Prestige Class customers who have paid a little over $11,000 CDN for rooms with double beds, unlimited liquor, card key access rooms.

If you are curious what Prestige Class bedroom look like if you are willing to pay through the nose…

Soon it was time for dinner:

Dan went for the chicken, I went for the prime rib – which was the most amazing prime rib I’ve had in a good long while.

More pictures from after dinner with the bed pulled down for the night:

Yes, I took my cheesecake to go.

And some CN Company Cars (for railroad executives to travel between their cities) that I spotted as we were pulling into Edmonton.

It was an early night for both of us, and against all odds we ended up in Jasper on time…at 6:30am!

And the inside of the station…

Before I got off the train, I’d had a little granola and yoghurt with a little old French lady from Bordeaux who spoke little English but I gleaned that her daughter was an au Pierre in Seattle, had another daughter in Vancouver as well as Toronto, and that she was her for a week. She managed to learn that I was a Merchant de Vin.

Because of the 3-hour stop in Jasper, it was a Continental Breakfast early, and then at reboarding at 9:30, it was a Brunch menu until 1pm.

I had the boys deliver me the Transcontinental Breakfast:

I think I like having room service on the train!

Especially with the view!

And this video of these cool falls that you can see from the train. Pyramid Creek Falls Provincial Park:

And I saw a mountain goat (missed the bear sighting)!

When it comes time for dinner, I get the lamb. Dan has graciously given me some alone time today.

Salad starter:

Lamb Chops for dinner:

And the boys (Tyler and Josh) brought me a split of the Lemon/Raspberry Cake, and the Strawberry Cheesecake.

Last stop of the night was Kamloops, which, as a train station, doesn’t have much to recommend it, but it is the City of Tournaments (hockey, judo, curling, etc. – knowledge courtesy of Tyler)

And damned if the train wasn’t EARLY into Vancouver – supposed to arrive at 8am, and it was in the bloody station by 6:30 – but unlike Amtrak, the staff stayed on and served breakfast at the standard time of 6:30 to 8:00. And in the room, no less!

And our morning view…

Breakfast in a non-moving car, a nice change.

Not sure why my Caesar isn’t in that shot, but it was good!

And the final shot from the train journey, Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, BC.

Bye, bye, train, may we meet again soon.

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2 Responses to “Trip Report: Grand Canadian Adventure – Saskatoon To Vancouver”

  1. Eric Gowins Says:

    I’d love to have the Amtrack folks see this.
    E

  2. Mary Says:

    I love the photo of you that Tyler the attendant snapped. You look very happy – love the clothes, your smile, and the setting!

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Thu
23
Jun '22

Trip Report: Grand Canadian Adventure – Seattle To Saskatoon

Well, after a week of work around the house, it’s time to hit the road!

First, we have to get over the border:

Might as well play the license plate game on the way:

With a stop at Burger Master…

Sadly, Dan doesn’t have NEXUS, so, here we are in line…

First stop is the La Quinta in Richmond, near the Vancouver Airport:

With a rooftop deck, sadly, no tables, chairs, umbrellas:

And the tiniest pool/spa I’ve seen in a hotel:

From the roof I spied a good choice for dinner, Mr. Bro – a Korean restaurant. Richmond is FULL of Asian restaurant, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting one – but Mr. Bro it is!

When we got there, the place was packed – a good indication with so many restaurants within blocks.

Complete with sushi-like mark it yourself menu:

Food was GREAT!

I got the Bibimbap, Dan got the grilled cod.

An early night because an early morning flight, and needing to move to car to long-term parking:

Conveniently across from a light rail station to the airport – and the train is free.

Before long, I am back home (meaning an airport lounge):

Before our 8:20am flight…I used 77,000 Air Canada miles to get us to Saskatoon in Business Class:

Complete with a second breakfast. I had two servings of the lox and egg on an English muffin in the lounge:

Why yes, that is a Caesar. Air Canada has spicy Clamato on its planes.

Mostly on time into Saskatoon, grab luggage and off to an Uber to the hotel:

We are at the Ramada, and because I’m a Wyndham Diamond member, they upgraded our room if we were willing to take a King over Two Queens (there is a joke in there someplace). Top floor, but the oddest layout I’ve ever seen. Maybe they should add a foosball table like the WorldMark Austin (see post here):

And we are connected to the largest indoor full flight golf driving range in Saskatchewan.

Mid-afternoon found us at the bar downstairs, ordering something called Perogy Nachos:

Needless to say, a nap afterwards was needed.

And dinner was MUCH HEALTHIER:

Off to bed because tomorrow will be an exciting day!

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Wed
22
Jun '22

Home Report: Projects Around The House

Random home projects between travels…

The shop got broken into a couple of weeks ago – broke the door glass, and they grabbed the cash, and the change drawer – not a bottle of wine missing or broken, and we got a free brick out of it.

Couldn’t find a replacement change divider online, so I just built one in the shop out of wooden wine box tops. Wood and a pin nailer!

And then was the making of the bed extension for my extended house guest…

And because I needed to use the big printer in the same bedroom, decided to build a storage rack from wooden wine boxes:

And why not rebuild the inside of my medicine cabinet in the bathroom…

 

It will eventually have a Japanese city scene behind the shelves – hence, need access to the printer.

Didn’t get that done before it was time to leave town and travel again.

I call these “quality of life” projects.

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Sun
12
Jun '22

Trip Report: A Couple Of Nights In The Woods – Headed Home In The Sun

After a night of rain, the sun came out in the morning, mostly.

After breakfast on the deck we headed across the road for a .7 mile “hike”. They said half an hour, for me it was a stroll, more like an hour.

When the area was originally settled, these were touted as “healing waters”. From the NPS website, “Human and natural history come together in the forest and meadows of Longmire. View bubbling mineral springs and explore a replica of an early homestead cabin. Discover the plants and animals that call this area their home, including deer, birds, and beavers.”

After the hike, we packed up and headed home…running low on food about halfway back.

Random exit with lots of “food” icons on the highway sign and we found ourselves two miles off the freeway in Auburn at Sushi Konami.

Highly recommended. Not the cheapest, but half the folks eating were of Asian descent, which does say volumes to me.

Got home, and the rain started up again. Sigh.

As a final note, finished two pulp fiction novels on this trip. A Father Dowling mystery with a theme of Stained Glass, also the title (Ralph McInerny), and Like A Dog With A Bone, dog trainer detective (Lee Charles Kelly). Highbrow literature all around. Had forgotten the joy of slowing down and reading for pleasure. Nothing like the mountains.

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Sat
11
Jun '22

Trip Report: A Couple Of Nights In The Woods – Sun Turned To Rain

Hello atmospheric river! Today is all rain, but we are still headed up to Paradise…

And here is what is hiding behind all that snow:

Unlike The National Park Inn, Paradise is more what people think of when they hear National Park Lodge….

It was a lovely place to check email with its 5-bars of 5G T-Mobile service.

Here are some historical shots of the place:

There is also the Visitor Center, but it a tad Spartan compared to the lodge:

Back down in the valley, you can see the difference between rain and sun:

We took our dinner in the Hotel Guest Lounge…sadly, it didn’t come on real plates, but we were able to bring our own (and better) wine. At least dessert came with proper plating!

And in today’s odd, but it happened (like yesterday’s puppy dog selling spinner). We witnessed a wedding day photo session in the pouring down rain:

And I’ll close today with a shot of how I got internet access without having to walk over to the Museum building…

Not sure how they feel about people sitting on their desks…but if I have the phone propped up in the window and don’t move it, I can get 2-bars of WiFi from the museum.

Tomorrow we head back home.

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Fri
10
Jun '22

Trip Report: A Couple Of Nights In The Woods – Getting There

I needed some time out of the house, even though it is summer and nothing is cheap, assuming you can even book it.

More atmospheric rivers expected for the Northwest, so it was the Escapé not the Miata…

Even did a little modification to the Escapé to make an extra drink holder!

It’s the stand for the laptop table that came with the car from an auction.

Lunch at Ivar’s on the way to Mount Rainier…

And the strangest sign spinner I’ve ever seen – Puppies?

Apparently, there is a place in the strip mall called Pupplyland….with puppy mills illegal in Washington as of 2021, they claim to be a “broker” between “breeders” and hopeful owners, that happens to offer financing of said sad puppies. According to Dan, they do not get good reviews.

Close to Rainier we stopped in Elbe, home to Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway (see blog post from several years ago) for a pit stop.

Before long we were a the park entrance, my Senior Pass in hand.

And soon to The National Park Inn at Longmire:

Two twin beds, shared bath down the hall set us back about $151.20 a night plus taxes on the AAA rate.

The beds were surprisingly comfortable for the spartan environment. Marriot Hotel worthy. Towels were big and soft, and because we had shared facilities, they gave us robes and slippers. Though, the slipper were a little odd, but you could also use them as shower boots so it makes sense.

There is a Hotel Guest Lounge…

Before dinner we wandered around the village – OK, I wandered, Dan went running.

Had dinner in the dining room. With COVID, staffing issues, it was a reduced menu and they were out of half the entrees, but at least they had a nightly special that worked for us.

As I said in my 2016 blog entry (link above), “Dinner was good, not “write home” excellent” – so that hasn’t changed.

We both were ready to turn in around ten – at least we could brush our teeth in the room!

To be continues tomorrow, or sometime.

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Mon
30
May '22

Home Report: Company In Town

Odd that I have a Sunday off, and I’m actually in town. Couple of weeks of working full time give me the excuse – and a friend returning from three weeks in Italy.

Where do we start our day, why at the transfer station dumping 150# of empty wine bottles!

But then we had some fun at The Museum of Flight…

And then some chainsaw fun – heard the neighbor running his and ask him to whack some of my stuff back!

And finishing with a Pork Tenderloin from Loretta’s that someone said was the “size of a head”:

They forgot the top bun, but with the fries, we didn’t need it.

Random day with company in the city.

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Fri
27
May '22

Trip Report: Whistler First Time Since Pandemic

Before the pandemic, I would visit Whistler 3-4 times a summer – getting the summer lift pass and just riding around the mountains. I almost cried as I approached Whistler this time.

Was an overcast day a little on the cool side, so the heater was on full blast.

I was shocked that there was a line at the border!

I was even more shocked when I couldn’t find my NEXUS card – apparently I’d dropped it at Duty Free. Was VERY SURPRISED when they let me through the NEXUS lane with just my passport. He asked my phone number and then my name. ArrivCAN which everyone must fill out was in the system with my NEXUS number in it. Not even a secondary inspection!

Just north of Horseshoe Bay where I stopped to take these shots, it started to lightly rain. Time to put the top up.

Glad that I wasn’t headed back into Vancouver on the Monday of a three-day holiday.

Stopped in Squamish for groceries and bubbles—and by the time I was done, the sun was out so the top went back down.

I think this falls in the category of “crimes against nature”. Banana-infused Bourbon. Yuck!

I was joined the first night by parts of my extended family:

They were only up for one full night, then left after an early dinner Tuesday – which meant shopping for supplies in Whistler Village, a short stroll away.

I left the boys to continue their stroll and took the groceries home. I thought the hot tub sounded better:

I had to head back on Wednesday morning at 6am (up at 5am) to open the shop at noon – business partner still testing positive for COVID. I’d already hacked off one night to a Thursday doctor appointment. Sigh.

Gloomy on the way back…

Hoping to be back at the end of June for another few days.

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Wed
4
May '22

Home Report: Mental Health Day Trip To The Museum Of Flight

Was feeling blue today so decided to do a Mental Health Day Trip to the Museum of Flight. Many thanks to Jonathan who got the family membership and added me.

Didn’t spend much time in the Main Gallery:

Headed over to the B-52 Pavilion since it was a lovely warmish spring day.

I always have to walk through the Concorde they have on display to remember how small they are inside. I have flown on a BA Concorde, in January of 2002.

The joke about the Concorde is that you needed to decide if you were peeing or pooping because the bathrooms are so small that you can’t turn around in them.

A couple of new things at the pavilion, like a FedEx sponsored display about air cargo:

This is a laydown “seat” for monitoring/controlling instruments that they could pull behind the 747.

And you finally get to walk through the first ever 747-100 which was used as a test bed. Fascinating!

Other random bits – the Pavilion is connected to the Raisback Aviation High School:

And in the building devoted to space travel, with a mock-up of the space shuttle they used for training, a schedule of upcoming launches:

Skipped the WWI/WWII this trip.

When headed back to the main museum (pavilion is across the street with the shuttle exhibit), MASSIVE police escort that ended at the main entrance driveway:

Guessing it was related to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Seattle today.

Final note, which they had these in an XXL because I would have bought one for Jonathan as a thank you.

Always take care of your mental health, even if it means asking for help.

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Wed
20
Apr '22

Trip Report: Discovery Bay To See A Grave

A little domestic travel this time.

Been a while since I’ve been on a ferry!

The Miata gets a discounted rate since it’s under 14 feet. WooHoo.

Four nights at the WorldMark Discovery Bay…nice view!

No shots of the 2-bedroom unit, just the bar:

Hopefully we have enough to drink – though the boys will be bringing two bottles of duty-free whiskey as well.

One cocktail hour I made Japanese Whiskey Highballs, which called for Grapefruit rind. Yummy.

Yes, the box came with a cute set of coasters.

The purpose of this trip was to hang out with the boys, and to visit a grave. Odd thing to do on a holiday, but…

So, why Joe Rantz?

The Boys In The Boat, a book, and later a movie about the University of Washington’s crew team made up of loggers and farm kids that one a Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics Games presided over by Hitler. Made more poignant for me was that I finished the book while I was in Berlin this last September; even drove by the Olympic Stadium. You can find that blog post here.

We are joined by my extended family who lives in Sequim a mere five minutes from the cemetery.

After the cemetery, we went to the Sequim Museum where they have an exhibit about the Olympic team.

Joe is in the center.

For a small own museum, it had very high-quality displays, with lots of AV/interactive equipment – like a screen with the winning race.

There are other things like mammoth tusks, and old vehicles…

And before I knew it, I was back on a ferry home.

That’s it for the day.

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Wed
6
Apr '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Eight, The Seriously Long Way Home

Well, it all started good….

Nice lounge, and then onto the plane:

And more food:

Quick hop from Barcelona to Madrid.

After my arrival, things went south, quickly. Got tested at the airport for the flight the next day and tested positive for COVID.

I probably sat on the airport floor for half an hour going, I’m fucked, I’m fucked.

Regaining a bit of my composure, got a cab to the hotel I had already reserved to figure out my plan.

Hello, Crown Plaza Madrid Airport:

After switching rooms, settled in:

Before I could concentrate, I needed food. Hello, room service!

Refueled, I started making plans for self-quarantine…5-days according to what I read about Spanish rules.

Things to do:

  • Extend hotel stay
  • Book new tickets for following Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Book backup hotels Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday
  • Book hotel in Vancouver, BC in case I have to come back into the country through Canada, which drops its testing requirement on Friday (meaning I’d take the bus back over the US border)

It is times like this that having miles/points with several airlines and hotel comes in handy.

But the long and the short of it is that I’m stuck mostly in my room for five days. Here is my view:

At least I get to see the planes take off and land…

Not as nice a view as the TWA Hotel at JFK, but at least I had room service. I quickly figured out which meals could be saved to get a day’s worth of food – large portions they served.

Needless to say, 5 days of hotel and room service weren’t in my travel budget. At least I’m racking up points. Sigh.

Five days of watching TV news, which in Europe is Ukraine 24/7 since it’s in their back yard. The only English-language stuff on the telly was news, and I could only take so much.

On day five I got out the Antigen tests that I travel with – they are proctored via video, so they are good to get back into the US.

Longest 15 minutes of my life waiting for the result.

NEGATIVE

Even though it was just a little after noon, I headed to the restaurant and ordered a Negroni to go. Whilst waiting, spied a convoy from the Spanish Truckers Protest slowly rolling down the freeway next to the hotel:

Back in the room, cocktail in hand, it was time to cancel bunches of flights and hotel reservations….

Actually, went to the restaurant for dinner, and had the worst meal of the many days.

Forgot to get the dressing on the side, and there was too much. Another Negroni helped. Side note, there is a lot of cross-training of staff at this hotel – my server tonight was one of the people that checked me in at the beginning of my stay.

My business class seat on Iberia down the drain, I booked Economy on American to Philadelphia (and because of my Alaska status, I get the extra legroom seats), connecting onto Alaska to Seattle – who actually upgraded my MILEAGE ticket to first. But, as with me, there is always lounge access:

Was a little surprised at the number of flights direct to the US:

Booked bulkhead aisle interior:

But as the plane didn’t fill, got myself moved to a window seat with the two seats next to me open:

Up in the air, I was surprised about the tastiness of the dinner service:

And my view for the next many hours:

So I settled in an started watching movies. Started with Biloxi Blues, followed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (both with Matthew Broderick):

And then Up In The Air with George Clooney.

Didn’t really sleep on the Madrid-Philadelphia leg. Started feeling the effects in the American Lounge in Philly:

More food on the Philadelphia to Seattle flight. Went to sleep as we took off, when I woke, they brought me the food I’d preordered.

So sapped that I only had one cocktail in the 6-hour flight. Went right back to sleep after the food.

Home by 10:30pm, but it was a long day.

SERIOUSLY glad to be home.

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Mon
4
Apr '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Seven, Alta Alella Cellars

Not far out of town, there is this beautiful, albeit small, winery that one of my distributors was able to set up a tour with Alta Alella:

With my host working his restaurant, we had set up a 4pm tasting and tour. Add to our party my friend since college who splits her time between Walla Walla and Barcelona (yes, an odd combination).

The parking was a bit from the front gate, which was a bit from the tasting room…

But well worth the walk.

Our hosts, Francesc and Xavi. Xavi is going to be our guide through the property.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a Cadillac Escalade to be our tour transport.

Amazingly hilly, hence the four-wheel drive.

And then into the industrial heart of the winery:

They age in Stainless Steel, Concrete Eggs, Clay Amphora, the works:

And then there is one of their cellars – about 50% of their production is in Sparkling Wine:

These are for the high-end vintage-dated sparklings, we didn’t get to see where the majority of their bottling and storage is (guessing much less romantic). This is where they house examples of ALL of their bottlings over the years.

And then there was the owner’s residence (which wasn’t on the tour):

And then it was on to the tasting!!!

Yes, we tried a few things. Amazing range, and all delightful.

And a few shots on the way out – what a lovely day.

A lovely endcap to my time in Barcelona.

Headed home in the morning.

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Mon
28
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Six, Barcelona

It’s lovely having friends plopped around the world. It makes keeping in touch on a deeper level possible than just email/FacePlant. My major stops on the Spain trip are to visit my ex-pat friends. Happy to have the floor, a couch, even a bedroom. More time to spend with the people I love.

Let the feasting begin with lunch!

As usual, too much food!

Fortunately, not this:

Spent my first two nights next door to my hosts at the Praktick Garden Hotel. I’m not the only company in town this weekend.

Small, but clean, and good coffee in the mornings! Looks like they used to have a little buffet set up, but, you know, COVID.

Seems that Spain revolves around food…not a bad thing. Sunday’s dinner out was Prix Fixe Japanese:

Sunday we were off to the countryside for more… you guessed it, food. Not the best of weather.

But first, a little Vermut since it isn’t time for our reservation:

And then onto food and wine!

And because one of the boys has a sweet tooth (not me, just bring another cocktail):

And then coffee….

Back in the car to explore an old town nearby…

And later, a little walk around Barcelona…

Moved in with the boys on Monday when the girls returned to Vienna. They have a lovely place….

Lunch one day with a long-time friend who splits her time between Barcelona and Walla Walla (yes, an odd combination):

Dinner at home with the boys tonight – host is a FABULOUS chef:

Yes, he has a BBQ on his back deck – he IS an ex-pat after all.

Even his quickie breakfasts are a treat:

Oh, and he owns a restaurant in the district with the Hermes, Channel, etc. shops…

The above shots were taken AFTER they closed for the day. When I arrived, there was barely a table for me.

I had the Royal Slider (beef tenderloin and foie gras) with rosé. Yum.

On the way home, we had a wander through one of the local Mercado.

Food, and MORE FOOD!

That’s it for Barcelona. Tomorrow’s post is all about the winery we went to just outside town.

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Sat
26
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Five, Train To Barcelona

The upside is that there is a direct train from Granada to Barcelona – the downside is that it leaves at 8am in the morning. Arrives 2:20pm, so, at least THAT is good.

I booked the middle class – bigger seats, but no food included:

And a café car is included:

Topped out at 300kmh on some sections.

What a lovely concept of train, sadly missing from the US. Sigh.

Tomorrow post: Barcelona!

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Fri
25
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Four, Granada

Hello Granada – home to friends who moved here from Seattle, and I’m there first guest! Must be important as they met me at the airport.

The cab can’t get all the way to their house, but close:

And before long, the food and wine was flowing….

Arrived on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon we were off for a tour of Alhambra – world famous complex of castles and fortresses.

Not going to be able to see it all today…another reason to return to Granada!

Lovely day for a tour – a bit breezy, but OK in the sun.

But the star of the show is the Alhambra itself, which requires a separate ticket.

So many more pictures, so little bandwidth!

Finished our tour with wine and food at the Hotel America…

Then more sightseeing on the way down the hill:

I swear the rest of my time in Barcelona was spent in various squares drinking wine and eating tapas! Buy a glass of wine, they bring you a nibble:

Or eating fabulous meals at their place:

And the final meal was rabbit – which took Randy two days to find with a trucker’s strike happening in Spain.

A wonderful 4-days, 3-nights with dear friends.

Off to Barcelona in the morning.

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Mon
21
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Three, Hopping The Pond

Waiting to check-in, I noticed these abandoned signs.

A sad reminder of what is happening in Ukraine, and how the world might be melting down.

Checked out of the hotel at 4 but check in didn’t open until five even though I had checked in online. At least there was a lounge waiting for me on the other side of security.

One of the joys of top level OneWorld membership is access to the First-Class Lounge, even if I’m just in Business.

With COVID, the menus are gone are replaced by QR codes, though I ordered the Manhattan from the bartender:

Which was followed by other things…roasted beet burrata salad with a little champagne…

Butternut squash ravioli with a Nigroni….

Life is hard. Lots of flights leaving tonight…

Soon enough it was time to board and snuggle into my pod…

And, of course, have MORE food and drink. White wine with the appetizer…

Red wine with the main…

Sherry with the cheese course…

And Scotch with the movie course.

Started with Sunset Boulevard and moved onto Key Largo.

And then into bed mood before being woken up with a light breakfast course…

Got to Madrid 15 minutes early but lost any lounge time by arriving at the far end of the international terminal, huge lines at immigration, then a terminal change, and being at the far end of that terminal.

A tiny plane where I had to check my computer bag – fortunately my big bag was checked all the way through to my destination. No business class on THIS flight!

But at least I’m in Granada, Spain…

And I have this to show for it. My first stamp in my new passport:

Next post will be Granada!

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Thu
17
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part Two, Stopover At JFK

When you use miles to get a frequent flyer ticket in the front of the plane, you take whatever crappy routing they give you – which, in my case, meant an overnight at JFK before my flight to Spain.

Lemons into lemonade – a chance to stay at the TWA Hotel.

The short story of the hotel is that it utilizes the head house of the TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by the architect Eero Saarinen. The TWA Hotel project added two buildings on either side of the existing building adding 518 hotel rooms. And this is where I’m staying in a runway view room which you can book late check out in two-hour increments. I set my checkout for 4PM.

And then there is the interior of the main building…

And then there is my Runway View room….

Interesting side notes about the room:

  • No coffee maker
  • No alarm clock
  • Order ice when you check in
  • Mini-bar empty (COVID-related)
  • There was only ONE glass in the room, albeit, a very nice glass for a hotel
  • There was only ONE chair at that long desk, which just seemed “odd”

Interesting notes about hotel services:

  • No room service
  • Various “food court” options in the lobby, some open 24/7
  • Several restaurants on premise, not inexpensive
  • TWA memorabilia store
  • Museum (pictures above)
  • 24-hour gym
  • “Connie” Bar (the airplane outside) is open as a bar from 4pm-10:30pm

Yes, a coney dog is available in the Food Court.

And the most interesting feature of the hotel, the rooftop pool and Après Ski Cocktail Hut:

But as an AvGeek, the big draw is the plane spotting!

And for the history buffs, Eero Saarinen office recreation, and a mid-century room:

Well folks, that was my night at the TWA Hotel at JFK. Not cheap, but on the bucket list.

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Wed
16
Mar '22

Trip Report: Spain, Part One, Getting Across The Continent

Packing things to take to Spain that aren’t mine:

Friends from Seattle moved to Granada, Spain and there are some things they can’t get there. Got it all in my bag WITHOUT expanding the gusset!

Here is the flight plan:

Lounge…

Another lounge in Portland…

Drinks and a movie:

Dinner of Korean Short Ribs:

JFK Sky Train to one terminal over, and my iconic hotel for the night:

Short post tonight (for me, early afternoon for Seattle).

More adventures tomorrow.

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Fri
4
Mar '22

Trip Report: Winter Mileage Runs

These mileage runs were planned months ago, though like everything, some things change – like staffing shortages completely cancelling a second RDU (Raleigh-Durham) run.

This isn’t ALL the flying I’ve been doing this year, just the ones where I fly someplace, get off the plane, reboard the same plane and come home. Rache was with me on three out of the four of these.

The total flight distance for these flights is 19,978 flight miles which is 22 miles short of Alaska MVP Silver. Of course, I’m going for at least Alaska MVP Gold 75K, if not 100K.

Sometimes upgrades, sometimes not…this is not:

This is:

And beautiful views…

And this is the hotel I’m staying in in a couple of weeks – the TWA Hotel!

Food on the plane:

Food in the Lounges:

As opposed to Decomposed Cucumber Salad?

And the occasional furry seatmate, Louie:

And then there is the filthy loot at the end:

Additional note – I was tempted to jump on this plane while in Boston and go the boyfriend:

And the last shot of the day, just another mascot:

That’s it for the Winter Mileage Runs this year. Here’s hoping for at least 75K Status so I can keep getting upgrades – 6 out of the 8 legs I got upgraded. Damn Fort Lauderdale, never going back!

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