Thursday, March 31, 2016

LAX Hilton: Quick Overnight

We walked out to the hotel shuttle area around 12:30 a.m. at LAX and lo and behold a Hilton van pulled up within five minutes. Lucky us!

After a short ride and an efficient check-in, we were in our room, where we caught a few hours of sleep.

After a decent continental breakfast in the 16th-floor Executive Lounge, we relaxed for awhile.

Today's flight to Changsha on Hainan doesn't depart until 1:35 p.m., so we have a lot of time, even though we sadly won't be able to use the TSA PreCheck line, given we're on a foreign carrier.

Blogging will be light to non-existent for a week, as China's Great Firewall blocks Google (this is a Google-based blog) and Facebook, and we won't bother with a VPN.

Not a bad room...

This is the city, as Joe Friday used to say - at least around LAX.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Night Flights

A beautiful evening to fly Alaska BLI-SEA-LAX on the first leg of our flight to Changsha, China on Hainan Airlines.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Seattle At Last

Security at Munich was somewhat more intensive than usual. Kathy "qualified" for a pat-down after the metal detector, but the second hurdle before boarding US-bound flights only involved the usual questions without any additional searches of us or our bags.

In the Lufthansa Senator Lounge inside security...

In the queue to enter the gate area...

A final farewell peek at Europe as we take off from Munich...

We were a little sleepy by the second flight.Although we held United Business Saver Award tickets we weren't assigned to First, so we sat in seats 12ABC on this 757. The crew was of the "We're here primarily for your safety" type, reminding us how little we miss flying UA, as opposed to Alaska.

We bought Taegan a Tapas box, and used some ancient non-expiring UA drink certs to buy adult libations. We half expected a fuss over them, but the flight attendant was as indifferent to that as she was to anything else, reminding us of the cynical old street cop in Joseph Wambaugh's first police novel, The New Centurions, who told the rookie he was "civil to all, courteous to none."

In any event, after a nap aboard Taegan literally pulled her weight as we walked briskly to the hotel shuttle are and caught  the 10:45 pm bus to the Doubletree and a happy reunion with Targan's parents, not at all marred by the thousand or so attendees at the fantasy / sci fi literary convention based in the hotel. 

We barely noticed the, ah, interesting costumes, and the individuals appear friendly and harmless, if a bit exuberant.

The dining MUC-ORD was definitely more elegant. Taegan found the shrimp dish okay but not great.

 The sundae was a hit...

The Tapas box was better than nothing...

Resting on the first flight...

And there are more people-watching opportunities this morning...

Breakfast time...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Next Stop Chicago

The Missing iPod

Kathy realized after we were already underway on the S-Bahn to the airport that she'd left her iPod in the room.

We rode two stops back and Brian ran up to the hotel, got a key, and searched with two cleaners who were already in the room. No luck.

Kathy went back, this time holding the iPhone in her hand. She asked the cleaner in German and he said, "Oh, maybe in the towels." Success!

Oddly enough, when she returned to the platform she noticed that her iPod had been switched off. She never does that.

The plot thickens but she has her iPod back, we are all checked in and sitting in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge after some more thorough screening than is the norm (no surprise), and will ready ourselves for another round of screening at the gate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Munich: A Day at the Museums

Our last day in Europe ended up being something of a bust, although Taegan was a good sport about it.

We were excited to take her to the BMW Museum, as we had thoroughly enjoyed it in Fall 2014.

First, a balanced breakfast at the Munich City Hilton's breakfast buffet, and then a couple of U-Bahn trips.

We rode there, found our way in, and paid the entry fee. It looked somehow different. It slowly dawned on is that our previous visit had been to the Mercedes-Benz Museum near Frankfurt - wrong city, wrong car manufacturer!

Although this is one of the very top-rated attractions in Munich, it just can't match the Mercedes exhibits of really old cars, fire engines, buses, and other vehicles.

Don't get us wrong: This is one terrific museum but not one to particularly appeal to a typical 12-year-old girl.

We'd forgotten that BMW bought Rolls Royce.

We kept our visit fairly short and made our way back by U-Bahn to the Deutsches Museum, a magnificent display of technology. Our favorite part of the exhibit was closed for renovations, however, and we spent too much time hiking up and down stairs and fighting crowds.

We redeemed ourselves somewhat by finding a restaurant that serves Wiener Schnitzel mid-afternoon, Taegan's request for the final meal of her first trip to Europe. We pack later tonight, girding ourselves for extra airport security and a long day of flying back to Seattle via Chicago: MUC-ORD-SEA.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Taegan Visits Munich's Haufbräuhaus

Salzburg Hauptbahnhof

An Austrian breakfast for Taegan and then it's off to the main train station for our 90-minute trip to Munich...