Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Glacier National Park: Traveler’s Rest

So we are having this perfect day, this glorious day. Mountains, sun, lakes, Spring, bear, isn’t this a grand life?

Well, like every life, it has its moments. We find a perfectly average place to eat; it really looks promising and then everything we order is like pulled out of the freezer kind of stuff, not awful, just not what we would ever choose if we had known. In East Glacier, however, the season has not really started yet and a lot of places just haven’t opened yet.

Then, we are ready to get settled. I know where we will be staying is near Saint Mary, and I have directions. We keep following the directions, but it isn’t working. I call the B&B and tell her I am at the gas station by the gift shop and she gives me more directions, and we follow them and something is just not right.

AdventureMan is getting frustrated, I am feeling stressed and incompetent, so I call again, and somehow, this time, we discover that I am in the wrong place, about 30 minutes from the right place, which is East Glacier Village, or just outside.

Whew. Crisis averted. We get back on the road and shortly we see where we need to be.

 

These are some of the nicest cabins I have ever seen. They feel spacious on the inside, and are beautifully done. You can see East Glacier Village and the train depot from our porch. And the mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We go into East Glacier Village to pick up some milk for our cereal in the morning, and we see the Two Medicine Grill, which seems to have fresh pie. We can’t resist fresh pie.

 

As we are leaving, I point out to AdventureMan the Railway Depot across the street. He said no it wasn’t. I was stunned. Sometimes this happens, and he is very adamant, and so sure that I doubt myself, but not this time. And then . . . then he did it. He said “Do you have a minute?” I held my breath so I wouldn’t laugh out loud. “Sure,” I said agreeably. So he turned the car around and zipped up and pulled into the terminal. “THIS is not the Depot!” he crowed. (Looking right at the sign that said Train Depot.) I just looked at him in amazement, and laughing, until he looked again and then he started laughing too. It was one of the best moments of the trip, and we howled with laughter all the way back to the cabin, where we sat on our balcony, looking out at the mountains, and ate our pies.

He had peach. I had cherry.

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Hotels, Humor, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Glacier National Park: Many Glacier

We have to take the long way around to get up to the Many Glacier entrance, back through East Glacier Village to Browning, then up to Saint Mary, but no problem, because we’ve rented a cabin in the Saint Mary area. Going through Browning, we see tee-pees, just alongside the road:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This ride is just gorgeous, but it is not a great road. It isn’t a terrible road, but it is not paved, and from time to time there are serious potholes. There isn’t a lot of traffic, so we are not inconvenienced, it’s just we haven’t been on a road like this since maybe Africa.

 

Along the way, we see something we haven’t seen before, a Mama Black Bear but with only one cub. The cub looks older, maybe one year old, and life must be easier for the Mama than if she were trying to feed two cubs.

It was just us and one other couple. This was heaven.

 

 

Now I want to show you how the same scene looked in Hayden Valley, in Yellowstone:

It’s horrible. This was the Mama Bear and her two cubs trying to feed while people are scrambling to get their attention and photograph them.

Bear watching on the way to Many Glacier was relaxed – for her and for us.

 

Many Glacier Lodge

 

 

 

We want to come back and stay here. (Many Glacier Lodge is not open until around Mid-June) What joy, to wake up in the morning to all this beauty.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Spiritual, Travel, Wildlife | , | Leave a comment

From West Glacier National Park to Glacier Park Lodge the Long Way

We have yet to drive the complete Going-to-the-Sun road, and we know it just isn’t in the cards this trip, even with the heat wave (temperatures are in the 80’s F.) it just makes avalanches less predictable. The road is closed.

So we have to go around, and the going around is beautiful. The map below is from Google Maps.

 

From East Glacier Park Village, we will be able to take Two Medicine Road. In the old days, this WAS the road into the park, and it is beautiful. (Don’t worry, I intend to balance all this navigation with a lot of photos.)

Map into Many Glacier and Road-to-the-Sun from East Entrance at St. Mary:

 

What is very cool is that these maps are free, online, at My Yellowstone Park.

You know we have a preference for having the road all to ourself, so an early departure – not too early, like 7:00 a.m. – gets us what we want. Google Maps tells us it will only take an hour and 19 minutes, but we are big on the experience, and we stop often, and it takes us a little longer.

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing we see coming into East Glacier Park Village is a gorgeous lodge, the Glacier Park Lodge. When I tried to book it, it said it would not be open when we visited and it wasn’t open, but . . . the people working to get it open were very kind, and a ranger showed us through the beautiful old hotel. It has huge timbers holding up the lobby, and a beautiful skylight in the roof so it all feels bright and airy and open. This place is gorgeous.

 

 

This hotel is one of the classic lodges, built to bring visitors to see these amazing sights in a time when there were no super highways, but there were trains. Just across from the hotel is the AmTrak stop.

 

 

 

 

 

There is a large golf course, many activities, a famous dining room, and best of all, it is located at the entrance to Two Medicine.

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

From Missoula to Kalispell to Coumbia Falls and Glacier National Park

Our day starts off with our divine leftovers from The Notorious Pig, and we hit the road early.

 

Once we leave Wye, we are on the Flathead Reservation. Things are done a little differently. There are bilingual signs, and there are special protected places for the animals to cross the highways.

 

 

 

This sign is not bilingual, but easily understood. AdventureMan and I are taking a short hike and he points it out. He knows I am irrational about snakes.

 

 

When we get to Polson, the road splits. The iPhone is working once again, and tells us to go up the east side of Flathead; I had thought we were going up the west side, but sometimes the phone has a better idea. This time, I think how much we might have missed – the east side is very rural, with gorgeous views of the lake and with orchard after orchard – cherry orchards!

First, we came to this beautiful Camp, Blue Bay.

 

It is early in the season, and there are only one or two campers, but we can see the signs that someone has been very busy preparing for the campers to come.

 

The Lodge is not ready for the season, but we peek in the windows; the lodge is my idea of camping 🙂

 

We see signs like this everywhere. Montana is working very hard to protect their lakes and rivers against an invasive mussel. All boats have to be inspected before launching. So far, this campaign may inconvenience the boaters, but the lakes and rivers have not been infested.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I fall in love with a name – like Kalispell. We had a lot of fun in Kalispell, this day and the next day when we came back for a Farmer’s Market.

 

This day, AdventureMan parked so I could run into City Hall in Kalispell. Two women were there, and no customers, so I asked first if there were any German restaurants, and there weren’t, and then I asked where they might eat lunch and why. That started a great discussion, and then they mentioned the Split Rock, just up the street. It sounded perfect for us.

 

This is an old mercantile, sort of the predecessor to a much larger department store. Below is the interior of what is now a Cafe and restaurant. Their coffee smells divine.

This is what this room used to look like if you were coming in the door, a long time ago.

 

The special today is a French Dip Sandwich – I have a weakness for French Dip Sandwich – and this one is made of prime rib. So that is what I order. AdventureMan orders the clam chowder and half a club sandwich.

This is the best French Dip sandwich I have ever eaten. I limit the bread I eat, I limit the red meat I eat, but – not today. Today against all my better angels, I eat the whole thing. The dip is juicy and spiced, and hot. It is heaven, every bite.

 

 

This is what we had for dessert:

 

From Kalispell, we explored Whitefish, very picturesque. This is the old railway depot:

We get to our hotel, and we have a beautiful room. Here’s the funny thing . . . I thought we were going to have a view of the mountains. What we had was a view of the roof. Mostly the underneath of the roof!

 

 

 

Our room is square over the lobby, and we look out on the antler chandelier. I thought maybe we should ask to be another floor up, but when I looked at the rooms from the outside, I could see that the third floor also had a view of the roof. Aargh.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Food, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yellowstone to Missoula: A Day of Transition to Glacier National Park

I’ve had one odd problem on this trip, which is that my iPhone went wonky in Yellowstone National Park. I figured out that if I downloaded maps while I had wi-fi connections, sometimes they worked in the park. It was a pain in the neck, and I didn’t always remember. The phone always knew where we were, but the maps didn’t always show up clearly. I am guessing it is a coverage problem, no cell towers, or something, but once we left the park, the problem was over. The phone could show me where I was.

We got a slow start – like maybe we slept in until 7 a.m. and then we went to Gardiner for breakfast, this time trying a place we had seen and wanted to try, Tumbleweeds.

Tumbleweeds is also a book store, where both AdventureMan and I found used books at 50 cents each to get us through the rest of our journey. In the last week, I had totally caught up with all my unread New Yorkers (woo hoooo!) and was ready for something light. I found Margaret Atwoods “A Cat’s Eye” (not light, has to do with bullying among girls, and emotional manipulation) and my husband found a Ludlum book he hadn’t read.

The food was just exactly the kind we like, not fancy, not pretentiously served, but made in house from locally sourced ingredients, as much as possible. Their coffee was delicious, to start. AdventureMan had a breakfast sandwich, and I had Montana oatmeal, and an english muffin. They make their own bread. They make all their own food. We were happy to be there.

 

 

If it weren’t for the mountains, the road to Livingston, where we got on I-90, would have been pretty boring.

 

 

No elk. No bison. No wolves. No bear. Shortly after we left Gardiner, we discovered also that the weather had changed dramatically, and not only were we shedding layers, but it was getting hot. I checked the forecast for Glacier – in the 80’s. In the 80’s ??? Yikes! I packed for freezing!

We drove as far as Butte before our breakfast wore off. We had no idea where to eat, so we drove to the downtown area and stopped a couple guys on the street and asked them where they eat lunch. They looked at each other, said there are a lot of options, then one of them looked at us and asked “Do you like a little nuance?”

No one has ever asked us that before.

We said “sure” and he recommended Metals, and showed us how to get there. Just as we were entering, the two guys entered, too, and said “we thought as long as we were recommending it, we might as well eat there, too.”

 

The first photo I took was the menu, because it cracked me up and agrees so totally with how I would like to live my life.

Metals is a sports bar. I guess it has been several things, but it began as Metals Bank, as Butte is a mining town.

You can even dine in the bank vault.

 

 

 

I had an Oriental Chicken Salad, delicious, and AdventureMan had the Chef Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast, which was also very good.

 

We continued on to Missoula, where we have stopped before when we used to drive from Pensacola to Seattle, and like a lot.

Our hotel was beautiful and quiet. We were welcomed warmly, and the receptionist was very helpful. This was the Grant Creek Best Western Plus, and it had great beds, was very quiet and was an easy access back to I-90.

 

I had found a Montana food blog and we knew exactly where we wanted to go. There is a fabulous BBQ restaurant in downtown Missoula called The Notorious Pig. My phone got us there without any problems.

 

We know what we like. This is it. We heard someone come in behind us and order, and asked about desserts. The guy at the counter said “We don’t do desserts. We just do smoked meats.” You could hear the pride in his voice. You could smell the meats; holy smokes.

 

 

I had first ordered burnt tips, only to be told they had already sold out. The smoked turkey was a great choice, so moist and so delicious and – so much. So much of both my husband’s BBQ pulled pork and my smoked turkey that we good boxes back to the hotel and although the hotel offers breakfast, we preferred to have warmed up BBQ. It was that good.

 

 

I will tell you this was one of the most memorable meals on our trip because of the quality of the meats. Also, I had never had Fire and Ice pickles before, so this was a first for me, and I was hooked. I’ve always loved pickles. These almost tasted like dills – maybe they even started out as dills, but then pickled again in a sweet, spicy brine. Oh wow. I’m going to have to figure out how to make these pickles.

 

We had a great nights sleep in Missoula.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Eating Out, Food, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs

There are crowds of people visiting Mammoth Hot Springs during the day. There are special lots just for all the buses that come to see the magnificent terraces. Suddenly, the afternoon is hot, and we are shedding layers. Late in the afternoon, we decide to visit the Upper Terrace, a one way road, very short, but you can park and hike in several of the areas.

This is not snow, although it looks like it might be. It is calcium carbonate, leached from the soil by heat and water, and laid down, layer by layer on these fabulous terraces. We are told this is the same material that makes up travertine tile, but it looks nothing like travertine. It is also different colors in different places, depending on which minerals are also mixed in and how long the deposits have been in one place.

We visited Pamukkale, in Turkey, many years ago with AdventureMan’s sister and her family, and were astounded such a wonder could exist. We had no idea that it also existed in our own country.

 

 

There are also crowds at the Upper Terraces, so we head back to the hotel to check in.

This is the Mammoth Hot Springs General store, where they have all kinds of souvenirs, t-shirts, jewelry, art works, ice cream and grab and go sandwiches and snacks. This was the best stocked General Store we found in Yellowstone. (Canyon was the most shopped out.)

This is what a view of the terraces looks like from the hotel – it is Mammoth.

 

This is a map of the USA made out of US woods. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is undergoing renovations, and rooms IN the hotel are not available, but they do have cabins. The facilities – the lobby, the Xanterra Gift Shop and the Map Room and Bar are open, and in a separate building, the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room and the Grill.

Guide to the woods used in the giant map of the USA.

 

Map room bar

Map room place to hang out and use internet. There is no internet in the cabins.

.This is a view from the lobby to the Xanterra Gift Shop. This is important to know if you are obligated to bring back gifts. The General store has souvenirs. The Xanterra shops are totally different, and have different – and often nicer – gifts to buy than the General stores. Don’t think that because you have shopped in one, you know what is in the other. They are different!

Now for the fun part. Well, fun for us. Not everyone would prefer a cabin to a hotel room, and they have their reasons, too. We love cabins, and we reserved far in advance, thanks to my friend’s warning, so that we could get a cabin with a bathroom. Do you want to go walking to a communal bathroom at night when there are huge wild animals walking about?

We also just like the privacy of having a little cabin. So don’t be shocked, it is tiny but it has enough space for people who are out most of the day.

 

It has a porch! We ate dinner out here on our second night of our stay.

 

Little washstand, and that is what works as a closet next to the washstand. We kept our suitcases in the car, parked right next to the cabin, and brought in what we needed for the next day in our backpacks.

It may be tiny, but you can shower and toilet without having to walk outside in your bathrobe, or wrapped in a towel or something.

AdventureMan loved these little chipmunks (?) squirrels (?) which were everywhere in the park. This one had a burrow with two entries right under our porch. He wasn’t shy about inviting himself to share our dinner, either.

Our first night in Mammoth Hot Springs, the end of a very long and eventful day, we decide to try dinner at the Mammoth Dining Room.

The Dining Room is entered from the right, the Grill Room (burgers, etc) is entered from the left.

 

The interior of the Dining Room; nice high ceiling, everything looking freshly painted.

 

We each had soup, Butternut Squash for me, French Onion for my husband. The soups were good. The Flatbread and the Hummus Plate were not what we expected. They felt assembled, not prepared. They didn’t feel fresh.

 

After such a nice lunch in Gardiner, this was a let down.

You are probably ready for this day to be over, but not us. We want to take a walk through the old Fort Yellowstone historical area before we close down for the night. We love that Mammoth Hot Springs is so walkable. Just have to watch out for the local residents:

 

 

But what happens if the Elk approaches you, at a rapid pace?

 

 

There are wonderful old military quarters, and stables, and an old PX, all with signs. As we were looking at the old PX, one of the residents (park employees live in the old military quarters) hollered out to us to watch out for the cranky old Mama, that she had a baby hidden somewhere nearby and could be a little hostile. We moved away, and were reading a sign when we heard yelling again, only this time “Run! Run! She’s coming!”

I got behind a nearby car so she couldn’t see me, but it wasn’t me she was interested in, it was my husband. He kept a sign between them, terrified, he tells me later, because an elk is big and muscular, and this was a big muscular mad mama elk. Someone else clapped hands at her and yelled, and she backed off long enough for us to move far far away. We didn’t know, but we must have moved too close to the hidden baby. Not her fault, our bad.

(In the newspaper two days later I read that an elk had attacked a park employee in that same residence area and the employee had to be hospitalized. The mama elk had to be relocated.)

This was a very appropriate finale for a day full of fun and adventures of all kinds.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Building, Food, Hotels, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yellowstone; The North Entrance and Gardiner, MT

This is all the same day, still, the day we left Canyon Valley early in the morning and it is only about 10 a.m. and we’ve had all these adventures.

But AdventureMan and I also love to eat good food, and we are (ahem) fed up with the Yellowstone offerings. We know Gardiner is just across the border, in Montana, mere minutes away. I haven’t had my coffee this morning (not a good thing if you are traveling with me) and we can’t get into our cabin until later.

Gardiner is FUN. We spent time in Gardiner three times. This time, we discovered the Wonderland Cafe and Lodge, where I had coffee and AdventureMan had hot chocolate. The Wonderland Cafe has all the things we love; high ceilings, lots of light, wood, comfy furniture – it has a great feel.

 

 

 

 

 

The view from Gardiner is purely grand:

 

 

 

And here is the famed Roosevelt Gate at the North Entrance:

We decided to head back out to Lamar Valley, our happy place, but first, we needed to have a good lunch. We found Rosie’s Bistro, loved the look, and had a great meal.

You know we are careful eaters. We have fruits with us, and crackers and peanut butter. We drink a lot of water. If you are that kind of people – stop reading now.

At Rosie’s, we went off the rails.

We could smell wonderful smells.

AdventureMan ordered a BBQ Pork sandwich, and did not bother ordering a salad. The french fries were fantastic. I ordered the not-on-the-menu ribs, which were so tender I only needed a fork. I ate them all. I barely even pecked at my salad. We did not order dessert.

 

View from Rosies Bistro:

 

 

I took this picture because of the picture. I thought I had a cool photo of the bison in the steam, but this one, oh WOW.

 

 

 

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Food, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Adventure: Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, Begins with Bad Omens

 

“If you want to stay at Old Faithful Inn, you need to reserve NOW,” my friend from Wyoming told me in the locker room of the YMCA.

It was only September, I wasn’t planning to go until late May.

“No really, you have to reserve far in advance if you want to stay in the Inn; my daughter warned me,” she counseled me.

So I checked online. Holy Smokes. The kind of room I wanted was not available. Several kinds of rooms were already sold out. My friend was right. We started researching, and making reservations. September was almost too late.

And then, as we got closer to departure, what to pack? How much to pack? My friend was not around to ask, but we were watching the weather reports. We each took larger suitcases than we normally do, because we knew we needed heavy clothing. I took a light jacket, a heavier wool coat and a rain slicker. Coats take up a lot of room. It’s hard to imagine needing a coat when you live in Pensacola and the temperatures are hitting in the 90’s this May.

The day of departure comes, and we have it all together. We are ready.

The taxi doesn’t show. We always give ourselves plenty of time, but this has never happened. AdventureMan gets on the phone, he is barely civil. I’m afraid the taxi isn’t going to come at all. The wait seemed like it took forever, but it was really only 45 minutes, during which I had to strictly discipline myself not to think that this might be a bad omen for the trip to come.

We were quickly through check-in and to our gate. Our flight goes smoothly. We have to stay overnight in Dallas/Fort Worth to catch the one flight a day out to Bozeman.

We land in Dallas/Fort Worth and the second half of travel hell begins. I have read the instructions, I have to call the hotel and they will send a shuttle. I call the hotel – five times. There is a screeching and static that makes it almost impossible to hear, but eventually I hear the receptionist confirm that she will send the shuttle.

We wait an hour. Then we see the shuttle! But he is in the wrong lane, he is in the fast lane, far away from the pick up lane. We jump up and wave, and jump and wave. He drives by, very fast, not even a glance in our direction.

I call the hotel again, and tell the receptionist what happened. She said the driver said we weren’t there. I’m not going to argue. We were there. I ask her to send the shuttle, that it’s already been over an hour we’ve been waiting. AdventureMan is getting hungry and cross. I am feeling responsible – I do the trip planning. I do everything I can to insure success, but sadly, I am not in control of everything.

Another half hour goes by, it is getting dark, and the shuttle shows up, already having seven people. We take our seats, and the driver picks up two more people, who have to stuff themselves in between people who are tired and hungry and hot and not as gracious as they might be. The driver radios in, “Yes, now every seat is filled,” and maintains constant radio contact with the dispatcher, driving erratically, at one point scraping the side of the van as we go through the toll gate. I am buckled up. If there is a terrible accident, I want to survive.

The passengers are from several hotels; the hotels have gone together to have a joint shuttle. We are first off. Check in goes smoothly, but we opt for a very early shuttle, not knowing if it will really arrive as it is scheduled, not wanting to face another wait like today.

We ask about nearby restaurants. There is a Whataburger in a nearby gas station. Or we can order delivery. Only one restaurant is in the folder upstairs, and when we call to place the order, we get the same screeching and static; they must have the same low-budget phone system as the hotel. We give up. We go downstairs, find frozen entrees we can microwave and eat in our room. We are eager to get our clothes off, get bathed, and get to bed. We have an early start the next morning.

Our room, by the way, is beautiful. It has a sitting area, and good beds with nice linens. It is quiet, and serene and comfortable. I’m not even going to tell you the name, because I have told the manager my concerns about the shared shuttle and the phone system, and told him that his hotel is lovely but he has those two systemic problems. A wise manager will deal with those issues.

The next morning we are up and out in minutes, and the shuttle, with an older, quieter driver is waiting for us, even though we are early. The trip to the airport is efficient and uneventful. We catch a breakfast at a Friday’s near our gate, and our flight to Bozeman goes smoothly. All is well.

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Customer Service, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Travel | | Leave a comment

Arriving on the MS Grace for Christmas Markets on the Rhine

Late in the afternoon, we board a bus for a very short drive to our ship, the MS Grace. We are greeted with enthusiasm and shown into the Lounge, where drinks and hors d’oeuvres are waiting for us.

 

The ship as all decorated for Christmas.

 

It doesn’t take long to get to our room, which we like a lot. It doesn’t have a balcony, just doors that open, I think they call it a French balcony. You can’t go out, but you can stick your head out and watch the world go by.

 

The bathroom is spacious, which is really nice when you are going to be sharing with someone, like AdventureMan. It really mattered to me, especially later in the trip, that the water in the shower was really hot and they never ran out of hot water.

Lovely closet! Room for us both to put all our things away, and hang up hanging clothes, store our luggage and even dress when the other person is still sleeping and one of us really needs some coffee 🙂

 

The dining room is not intimidating. There is always room. There are only maybe 100 passengers on board, so by the end of the trip we have favorite people we like to see and talk with at meals. The food was pretty good, too. I can’t drink a lot of wine any more, but they had a Sancerre that was cool and crisp and dry and went perfectly with fish. They had a good number of options at every meal, soups, salads, main courses and desserts. One person I saw even ordered two main courses; I’ve not seen that before, but it seems that Tauck really takes good care of demanding customers.

This is what it looks like out our window. It’s a good thing we spent so many years in Germany; we know what late November is going to look like (this looks pretty good for late November) and we are prepared for the grim greys and the cold. Even better – it’s what we came for. Winter!

For months, we have been following a thread on CruiseCritic; a thread about which cruises were going and which were not because the levels of the Rhine River have been so low, historically low. Some cruise lines cancelled, some made elaborate changes and ended up with unhappy customers. Tauck told us up front what our options were – we could opt for a later trip or do this trip with a mid-trip “ship swap.”

On the day we went to Heidelberg, we left our packed bags in our rooms, boarded our bus with our day packs, spent the day in Heidelberg, boarded our bus with our day packs and ended up in a little French town near Baden Baden on the Inspire, in the same exact room with our bags where we had left them on the Grace. Totally class act. Yes, it was a little disruptive having to pack and unpack – once – during the trip, but no hotel overnights, no packing and unpacking all the time, in fact as little disruption as possible, considering near the Lorelei the river was impassable for the 130m boats. They took a difficult situation, and did a good job making the best of it.

This is what our trip looked like, except that the last night was in Colmar, not Kembs. I think they changed for 2019.

What we liked a lot about going with Tauck is that they really do things beautifully. Presentation isn’t everything, but attention to detail really does make a difference. The ship was immaculately clean, and we lacked for nothing. Another thing we like is that we are very private, and very independent travelers. We don’t stick with the tour groups, we go off on our own and meet up with the group later. We like to find our own places to eat, go back to old familiar haunts, etc. What was really fun was that we met a lot of people like us who also took off on their own and went to fun places. On nights when we didn’t care to go to the dining room, we could get a perfectly delicious little dinner just down the hall from us, or even have it in our room. We like that.

They also gave a lot of cultural information, and not just information, but after a day exploring, there would be some local specialty the guides would be sharing on the bus; a special gingerbread, a special cookie, a chocolate candy, LOL at one place we even got a bottle of whiskey to put in our coffee, and a special coffee cup to put it in. OK, OK, I hear you, yes, we paid for it in the cost of the trip, but those little extras make a customer feel good, and it’s a competitive market. I admire their strategy.

 

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Germany, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Hotel Ernst in Cologne/Koln, Germany

We are refreshed, we have eaten good German winter food, and . . . I am ready for a bath. We check into the hotel and our bags have already been delivered to our room. Our room is a long walk, but we don’t mind. We have discovered that there is THE elevator, and around the corner another, secret, less used elevator. Our room is on a very quiet corridor.

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We can see the cathedral from every window in our room, even from the bathroom 🙂

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Look at that lovely inviting marble bath tub 🙂

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Hmmm. Very clean and modern looking, but . . . not so much for privacy.

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Oh yes! I do love a good closet.

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I remember keys like this when I was a little girl. No no no – no key cards for the Ernst.

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This is the view from the terrace coffee room, looking over the cathedral and the crowds coming and going for the markets.

AdventureMan heads off to see a war museum and I head for that gorgeous marble tub. As I am exiting the tub, AdventureMan returns and we settle in for an afternoon nap. We snooze about an hour and wake up only a little hungry, not big hungry, and decide to try the Chinese restaurant next door.

When we moved to Pensacola, our son sat us down and said “There is something terrible I have to tell you. Pensacola has no really good Chinese restaurant.” He watched our faces for signs of horror.

We love Pensacola’s seafood, and the really good little Vietnamese restaurants we find here. But oh, I yearn for Chinese, and love my trips out to Seattle where I can find a great meal or two.

We leave our hotel and head for the Peking. We know we’ve made the right choice, as we head up to the second story, we are behind a group of about twenty Chinese people, carrying bags of wrapped packages, some sort of party. They are in a separate room.

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The Peking is up above the McDonalds

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Table overlooking the cathedral and square

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Peking Hot and Sour Soup

 

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Peking Crispy Duck – wow! We thought we weren’t hungry, but this duck was so good we ate every bite.

Our first day and evening back in Germany are wonderfully fulfilling.

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As a final bonus, the Hotel Ernst is gorgeous at night.

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I love this misty, eerie photo of the Cologne Cathedral at night.

 

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Germany, Hotels, Restaurant, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment