Saturday, April 30, 2016

Problems and Pleasures in Panama City

Our three-hour flight from Miami landed at PTY 30 minutes early, and experienced flyers know what happened next - yes, nothing.

We sat in a holding area for 30 minutes waiting for a plane to depart from our gate.

The door finally opened at noon, a decent arrival time when it was scheduled for 11:53 a.m.

It was a fairly long walk to Immigration, but not much of a wait. Here they take your photo and you have to supply fingerprints for both hands in the same kind of glass-top reader the U.S. uses - oh, and then both thumbs pressed awkwardly together in front of you.

Finally we were through with a cheery "Welcome!" from the inspector. We'e back to not checking bags, and went directly to the place where all incoming bags are X-Rayed, presumably to make sure we're not smuggling Panama Hat knockoffs into the country.

We then exited to meet Luciano, the gentleman we'd arranged to pick us up, tour us around the city Monday, and return us to the airport Wednesday.

He wasn't there.

We called him (Thank you for cheap phone calls, T-Mobile) and he told us he had waited for some time and would return right away to the airport.

The airport authorities are the villains in this piece. Luciano told us the display screen stated our flight had arrived at 11:15 a.m. It had landed, of course, but didn't arrive at the gate for about 45 minutes after that. He waited for an hour and finally left at 12:15, figuring we'd stood him up, as tourists have in the past.

We probably arrived 5-10 minutes after he'd left. However, all's well that ends well, and we think he will make a good tour guide Monday.

When we checked in at the Hilton Panama, the friendly clerk mentioned we'd been upgraded to an ocean view.

We certainly have been, and this should be a very pleasant suite to spend the next four nights.

Don't you just love a bathtub with a view?

We're located at the end of a hall, and have this view out our bedroom window.

Yes, this will meet our needs quite adequately.

Early Morning at MIA

Oh well, who needs more than five hours of sleep?

Friday, April 29, 2016

AA 777 International First

So it's less than a three-hour flight DFW-MIA but it's better than nothing, even running 30 minutes late.

And a good time to stretch out...
Addendum: our flight has been delayed as we await better weather between us and Miami, so we've been able to sit in these seats a little longer (looking on the bright side).

DFW Admirals Club

A pleasant place to lay over for a couple of hours, and it includes an excellent coffee machine - Mocha time!

We sat by the bar but contented ourselves with Mochas.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is modern and pleasant - at least where we were.

American Airlines #282: Hold the Cream

Shame on AA...

Panama Bound

We're back at Vancouver's beautiful YVR early this morning as we set off for a few days in Panama City, Panama, on an American Airlines bargain First / Business Class fare.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"But Who's Counting?" plus Laundry, Chores, and Idiot Lights

Yes, we're back home for a very few days. The washing machine and dryer are working overtime, there is mail to open and, oh yes, just as we drove up to the border from Vancouver Airport last night, most of the "idiot lights" on our RAV4's dashboard display lit up, requiring us to schedule an emergency appointment at the Bellingham Toyota dealer this afternoon (and lucky to get one).

In three days we'll be driving up to YVR again at an ungodly hour of the morning to catch the first of a couple of flights that will take us to Panama City, Panama, a place we're looking forward to visiting, rather than merely sailing through its canal.

In the meantime, we're reflecting that Peru is the 76th sovereign country we've visited in our travels.

As we always say, "But Who's Counting?"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Happiness on a Houston Layover

Happiness is finding an airport Holiday Inn Express at IAH for 5000 points on an IHG Points Break deal.

We booked it for last night and asked for a late checkout, since we have Platinum status.

We both slept several hours and are ready to shuttle back to the airport for our flight to Vancouver.

It was a much nicer way to spend an 11-hour layover between flights than trying to cope at the airport.

Addendum: When we checked out shortly after 2:00 p.m. and requested a shuttle, the pleasant young clerk told us that shuttles don't run at this property between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. because "most people start checking in at 3:00."

There was another customer there in the same situation and we all got there via Uber. In all our travels, we've seen plenty of place that don't run their shuttles 24 hours, but in the middle of the afternoon?

Another amazing new travel experience.


Searching for Hotel Shuttles at IAH (Houston)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sumac Lounge at LIM

Yma Sumac was a renowned Peruvian-American soprano featured in recordings and movies. She specialized in "exotic" music and had an amazing five-octave vocal range.

She was no doubt one of the most famous Peruvians of all time.

The least Peru could for her was to name an airport lounge after her (no doubt they've done more elsewhere).

Our Business First United ticket gave us access to this quite pleasant facility. After traversing the security checkpoint and passport control in priority lines (a cane and leg brace come with a few fringe benefits), we can relax for a couple of hours here before boarding our 12:35 a.m. flight.

We moved to an adjoining room that seems quieter and cooler, with a view of the control tower through a huge skylight. We eventually figured out it's open to the sky.

What a great place to get some fresh air before boarding our six and a half hour flight to Houston.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

11,200 Feet: A Long Takeoff Roll on an LAN A320 from Cusco - We Made It!

On the Road: Ollantaytambo to Cusco

We always find people interesting.

This little boy had just darted across the busy highway on his way home from school, dragging his rollaboard behind him.

Not so pleasant: dogs in and around garbage bins...

Finally, the Hilton Garden Inn...

Even nicer view this time...

Various Pisco mixes / infusions in the bar - we stuck with a glass of red wine each. Sorry, Peruvians, the Chilean wine was a little better.