Planning for Intra-Europe Flights Was An OCD Nightmare Come True

I tend to plan obsessively over our trips, a fact I am sure Sharon will confirm for you in 3..2..1… (Note from Sharon….Huh? What? Oh. Him? OCD? Um….what’s the word I’m thinking of? H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks YESSSSSS!)

I’d rather worry about something ahead of time, possibly unnecessarily, instead of dealing with an avoidable problem while on vacation in a foreign country. I’ll make sure we have the proper credit cards, arrange to have cash ahead of time or know where the ATM will be when we arrive and will have planned how we’re going to get to and from all of the locations on our trip.

Planning the travel parts of the trip is the easy part. I just know how we’re going to get to the airport and make sure that our bags are within the weight limits. I have a luggage scale that works to keep us within the guidelines.

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But what if you don’t know what the guidelines are?

Continue reading “Planning for Intra-Europe Flights Was An OCD Nightmare Come True”

Having A Great Hotel Concierge Spoiled Me Forever

Concierge services. I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s because I’m someone who enjoys obsessively planning my trips and doesn’t need someone to tell me where to go or what to see. I also think it’s because there have been times I’ve asked them for help and the advice I received was mediocre at best. I’m not saying they’re not useful, just that the service is so inconsistent that having a “concierge desk” at your hotel really doesn’t mean anything anymore. Oftentimes what’s called a concierge is just a customer service agent standing at a different desk. I stayed at a hotel in London where the concierge just sold overpriced theater tickets to the tour groups who were staying there (Note from Sharon: Joe won’t give the hotel’s name but I have no shame. It’s the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. DO NOT STAY THERE. It’s awful. How it gets 3.5 and 4 stars is BEYOND ME unless they’re paying people to give them good reviews. The WiFi was slow as molasses, the rooms were last updated in 1972, the TV was about 12″ big, and the staff was no help for anything. It is an AWFUL hotel!). And don’t get me started about Las Vegas, where the “concierge” desk was the place you signed up for a tour of a timeshare to get free show tickets, and that was not the service I was looking for.

However, over the years,  I’ve found that if a hotel has a Concierge, and I mean a true Concierge, that can add value to a stay more than any suite upgrade or free breakfast ever will. Continue reading “Having A Great Hotel Concierge Spoiled Me Forever”

My Top Eleven Most Memorable Hotels

I recently started to reminisce about the most memorable hotels where I’ve stayed. They aren’t necessarily the best hotels, the fanciest hotels or the most expensive ones I’ve ever stayed in. Instead, these are the places that left the most distinct memories. I haven’t stayed at some of these places for decades and we just recently visited others. The reasons they’re memorable vary. They could be places where I stayed during a “once in a lifetime” trip or somewhere that was so unique that it was unforgettable. I think you get the picture. It’s not always the fanciest or most expensive or most popular hotel that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Any place could end up being on the list. You just have to find out for yourself what places are special to you.

Here are, in no particular order, eleven of my most memorable hotels: Continue reading “My Top Eleven Most Memorable Hotels”

Do You Need To Learn The Language?

After my co-worker learned about my travel hobby/obsession/blog, he asked me where I’ve traveled. I rattled off a few places, such as Japan and Austria, and he replied that he’d always wanted to travel overseas but never did because he didn’t speak the language. He asked if it’s possible to visit these places if you are unilingual. I replied with a resounding, “Yes!”

Don’t let the fact that you don’t know the language keep you from visiting a country. Now, I’m not suggesting being a proud idiot and going in expecting everyone in a different nation to speak your language, either. Understand there will be difficulties in communication, which will become greater the farther you explore from the normal tourist areas. These are some of the quaint things you remember about traveling. It’s a good idea to try and learn a few phrases before you go. Things like good morning, good evening, excuse me, please, thank you and the ever important I’m sorry.

Here are a few examples of places we’ve traveled without knowing the language and the memories we have.

Continue reading “Do You Need To Learn The Language?”

Visiting The Places in Salzburg, Austria Where They Filmed “The Sound of Music” (Without a Tour!)

I’ve been a fan of “The Sound of Music” (SOM) movie for pretty much my whole life. My first attempt at improvised harmony was to “Edelweiss” when I was 10 (my dad was SO PROUD!), and I have memories of singing “I Am 16 Going on 17” when I was, like, 3 or 4, and thinking someone that age was SOOOO OLD!☺ Visiting Salzburg, Austria, and the locations where they filmed parts of the movie, has been a bucket list item of mine for YEARS. So when Joe suggested in mid-late 2015 that we go there in mid-late 2016 as part of my “‘Ending with a zero’ birthday year,” I jumped at the chance.

In researching where to go and what to see, my first place for research was not a what or Continue reading “Visiting The Places in Salzburg, Austria Where They Filmed “The Sound of Music” (Without a Tour!)”