Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The 'Honey Trucks' of Frankfurt Airport

Quiche for Dinner

And we're not even in France...


Update: How Many Countries (But Who's Counting)?

We've been counting up the countries we've visited for some time. People do ask us occasionally, but after encountering a couple at a cruise stop whose sole purpose in travel - if not in life - was to make stops in as many countries as possible - and to introduce the topic almost immediately into a casual conversation, we downplay it.

So far in 2014 we've added three new countries to our list, The Maldives, Vietnam, and the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein on our just-completed European road trip.

Based on the Century Travelers' Club list of 321 entities, we've therefore been in a total of 95 "countries" to date. You'll notice the list includes a lot of places that aren't sovereign states, but it's one harmless way for us to keep tabs.

Pacific Ocean
Australia
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)
Hawaiian Islands
New Zealand
Tasmania
North America
Alaska
Canada
Mexico
U.S. (continental)
Central America
Belize (British Honduras)
Costa Rica
Guatemala
Honduras
Panama
South America
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Uruguay
Caribbean
Antigua & Deps. (Barbuda, Redonda)
Bahamas
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
Jamaica
Leeward Islands, French (St. Martin)
Puerto Rico
St. Barts
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten (formerly Netherlands Antilles)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, U.S. (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Virgin Islands, British (Tortola, etc.)
Atlantic Ocean
Azores Islands
Bermuda
Canary Islands
Cape Verde Islands
Iceland
Madeira
Europe and Mediterranean
Austria
Belgium
Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca)
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ionian Islands (Corfu, etc.)
Ireland (Eire)
Ireland, Northern (Ulster)
Italy
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Sicily
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)
Vatican City
Wales
Africa
Egypt
Lesotho
Morocco
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
South Africa
Swaziland
Zimbabwe
Middle East
None
Indian Ocean
The Maldives
Asia
China, People's Rep.
Hong Kong
India
Japan
Korea, North (DMZ tour only)
Korea, South
Malaysia
Singapore
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey in Asia
Vietnam

If, however, we restrict our list only to sovereign nations, we've visited 71 of 195 such entities:

Antigua
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Canada
Cape Verde
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Holy See (Vatican City)
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea (North) - DMZ tour only
Korea (South)
Lesotho
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Mexico
Monaco
Morocco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Panama
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Saint Kitts
Saint Lucia
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Swaziland
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Vietnam
Zimbabwe

It turns out, then, that we've visited a higher percentage of the world's current sovereign states - 36% - than our presence in 30% of the Century Club's entries. But who's counting?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Above Davos, Switzerland: The Sounds of Swiss Cowbells

video 
We enjoyed the proximity of genuine Swiss cows wearing genuine Swiss cowbells high up in the mountains above Davos, Switzerland. According to a Swiss news report, those gentle sounds may disappear, given a study claiming that the bells can damage the cows' hearing and feeding patterns.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yet Again: Home Sweet Sehome

We skipped lunch on our first flight and caught a few much-needed hours of sleep.

After a layover spent in a grubby Houston United Lounge, we boarded our flight to Seattle, and ate the light dinner provided before sleeping for maybe another hour.

A fairly bumpy approach but a smooth landing found us in Seattle. From there we got lucky with a quick Shuttlepark 2 pickup, and a quick drive from there to the Hilton Garden Inn we had snagged for the night. We were in bed by 9:00 p.m. and slept until 3:00 a.m. or so.

This morning we drove up to Birch Bay through the hardest rain we've since sometime before Europe, and now we're back home for awhile picking through mail and relaxing. Despite the weather, it's nice to be home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MUC: Lufthansa Senator Lounge

Easy drive to the airport - that's one advantage of leaving downtown at 6:00 a.m.


Hilton Munich City Executive Lounge

One of the first foreign lounges we experienced and still a favorite. Of course, we'd say that about München in general...


Kathy and Brian Do Oktoberfest

Two U-Bahn rides deliver us to the site of Munich's Oktoberfest - huge crowds, men in lederhosen, women in dirndls, wild carnival rides, huge beer halls...


Innsbruck to München

A couple of hours on Autobahns, albeit mainly more crowded than this photo shows, and the usual slowdowns into really narrow lines while repairs are taking place.

We're already in our room at the Munich City Hilton, and may take a peek at Oktoberfest, which we're surprised to learn has already started.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stieglbräu Innsbruck: Worth a Return Visit

Evening Shadows in Innsbruck

Day trip from Innsbruck: Schwaz and Seefeld











Our drive enabled us to take in some more spectacular scenery on this gorgeous day, navigate the narrowest twisty road of the trip, and even gawk at tightrope walkers, a hang glider, and a set of pool obstacle tables laid out in the style of - and next to - a mini-golf course.

Tonight we pack and tomorrow we drive the couple of hours to turn in our rental car.