Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Week in Deutschland

As my first week in Germany comes to a close I have but one thing to say.  I can’t wait for next week or perhaps It can only get better.  Okay, maybe more than one thing to say.  Plans lead to disappointment so don’t make them.  Just hope they fall in your lap.  Nah, let’s not be so harsh.  We’ll say, if you are going to make plans don’t wait until the last minute.  But doesn’t that conflict with the previous theory?

image First things first.  Normally when I stay in Europe I like staying at a hotel with a bar on site or at least a restaurant on the premises.  I am staying at the Sonnehof in Oberursel.  Never heard of it?  I’m not surprised.  It’s a nice little hotel if you are 80 years old and want a little peace and quiet.  But wait!  There’s more! 

image Because I am staying in Germany for a month, they have put me in the “extended stay” section of this retirement home.  I’m living out back in an apartment type thing with a stove to cook my own stuff in the closet.  Here’s my closet…Where I cook my food and store my beer.

Originally I was supposed to be going to Frankfurt this weekend to visit some rock clubs with a colleague.  This plan fell through.  So, on Thursday, I decided to see about a trip to Prague.  I assumed I’d be able to get there so I reserved a nice hotel on the river for about $80 per night.  Then I went to get a train ticket…

I’m thinking there is a market for doing this better.  If I went with the Bahn (the German train service) and buy my tickets they have a thing where I can print out my tickets.  However, if I use their service, the trip will take 7 hours and 4 hours of that is on a bus. 

They also have a thing called “City Night Line” which basically means I could leave Frankfurt at midnight and arrive in Prague at 10 AM (sleeping in my little sleeper car on the train).  Which, in hindsight sounds like kind of a cool thing to do.  Instead of a hotel room, sleep in a train.  That would end up being 20 hours on a train though and I would still have to get back to work at 8 Monday morning.

There is another service called Rail Europe which had some slightly better options, but they must mail you your tickets.  I don’t know why.  I didn’t ask.  I can’t wait on the mail.  Good old last minute plans and all.

I decided to take a 1 hour flight on Czech AirlinesTravelocity, that good old D/FW based company was showing a round trip ticket for $492.  That’s not bad for a last minute booking so I booked it.  When I put my credit card information in and hit the submit button, the site came back and said something along the lines of “Oops.  We’re sorry.  Something has happened with this booking.  Please go back and redo your selections”.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m booking a flight, I don’t like the word “Oops”.

Anyway, long story slightly shorter.  I stayed in the retirement home this weekend watching videos on Netflix.  I’ve almost made it through all of “Dead Like Me”.  Actually, I finished the entire series (not all in one weekend) and am about halfway through the movie.  So far, I don’t like the movie very much.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Destination Fascination

For those of you living under a rock or for those of you unfortunate enough to miss out on my multitude of meandering ponderings, I am heading for Germany on September 19th.  I will fly back on October 22nd.

Although mostly for work, I do get my weekends off and I did manage to take 6 days of vacation.  From September 30th to October 3rd, I will be in Munich to close down this year's Oktoberfest.  It ends on October 3rd.

My work officially ends on October 15th, but my return flight is not until October 22nd.  As of right now, I am planning to get on an ICE (InterCity Express) and go to Paris on October 15.  I'll stay in Paris until October 21st, then return to Frankfurt.  It's about a three and a half hour train ride on the ICE train.  I'm not 100% sold on this plan right now, but it's my best plan yet and several people have told me that Paris is wonderful.  Going to Amsterdam for a week is probably my 2nd best option.

The weekend of September 24th (my first weekend in Frankfurt) I have been promised a weekend in Frankfurt going bar hopping to the many Heavy Metal clubs in the area.  If you are familiar with bands like Rammstein you'll understand why I'm pretty excited about it.

The weekend after that, as I've already stated, will be spent in Munich closing down the 2010 Oktoberfest.

The only weekend I don't have plans then is the weekend of October 8th.  I can stay in Frankfurt (obviously).  I can go to Prague (Czech Republic) or I can go to Brussels (Belgium).  Prague would be the furthest East I've ever ventured (unless you count when I was down on the Eastern ankle of Italy).  Brussels, obviously, for the beer and perhaps the waffles.  Both are about 3 hour train rides from Frankfurt.  I'm not sure a weekend is enough.  I mean I'd leave Friday after work, arrive 10 PM or so and then have to find a train back on Sunday afternoon.  It'd be a lot of money to spend for a one day trip...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ruthie Foster

She's going to be at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth on January 7th.  Talk about advanced notice, but I really dig her music.

It's too bad this song wasn't around when I graduated high school.  Would have been a great graduation song!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogging For Dummies

I find myself lacking the time and/or the inspiration to write long mean-spirited posts as I am fond of doing.

They have this thing called Twitter where you are supposed to write short little snippets about what you are doing or where you are going.

They have this thing called Facebook where you can write "What's on your mind" and then all your friends can comment on what's on your mind.

Blogging should be more verbose.  However, since my verbosity is lacking, you get this.

So friends and acquaintances!  Prepare yourself for SUMMARIES!  YAY!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trip Planning

If I purchase the tickets ahead of time then I have "made my decision" and thus have no flexibility regarding how I spend my weekend.  Because, as we all know, indecision is the key to flexibility.

However, if I am going to be in Frankfurt from September 20th to October 27th, then that is five weekends where I need to entertain myself.  I need your help.  You know who you are.

September 24th is my first weekend.  Some kind of sound reasoning tells me to stay in Frankfurt this weekend.  Just take it easy and catch up on jet lag.  But that sounds boring.  Maybe I can take a 3 hour train ride to Prague?

I'm taking two vacation days the next week to go to Oktoberfest.  I'll leave Frankfurt September 29th and go to Munich.  I'll be returning on October 3rd.  That's not going to change.

On October 8th, I'm thinking Paris.

On October 15th, I'm leaning towards Brussels.

On October 22nd, I'm thinking Amsterdam or maybe Zurich.

To aid in helping with my decisions: I have been to Vienna before.  I've already spent 5 weeks in Italy this year.  I've been to Amsterdam before, but would like to go again (I don't know if a weekend is enough).  From Frankfurt to all the cities I've mentioned, it's about a three and a half hour train ride.

I can purchase a Euro Select Pass before I go for about $700.  This allows me to travel for 10 days to 4 different countries via the rail system.  Each seat reservation will cost about $15.  If I don't buy the pass then each round trip ticket will cost around $200.  I get quite a bit more flexibility without purchasing the pass.

I mean, it's possible I'll meet someone from Frankfurt who invites me to parties every weekend and then I get to hang with the locals which is guaranteed entertainment without having to travel!  Then I'd have to eat the $700 which would suck.

Sometimes it's hard being flexible.

Monday, September 6, 2010

So Many Plans, So Little Time

I had so many plans this weekend that I did almost nothing.

It looks as though I'll be in Germany for a month starting next week so this weekend was going to be my "last free weekend". 

Friday night I went to Lee Harvery's in south Dallas.  It's all outdoors. Listened to some good live music (David Bowie cover band) and sipping on a beer.  It was fun.

Saturday morning, my brother and sister-n-law came over and we finished putting my entertainment center together in the living room.  Soon, I'll post before and after pictures so you all can see it.  I'm thinking we can build custom entertainment centers starting at $5k.

Saturday afternoon, the offspring called and wanted to come see me before I leave for Germany so I, of course, said "Certainly!".  Since both my girls are teenagers it's becoming rare that they both want to come hang out with their boring father so I can almost always rework my schedule.

Sunday morning my eldest went to the lake with friends so the youngest one and I walked to IHOPS and had breakfast and had many varied conversations including some on religion.  It was Sunday after all.  She has an interesting view on religion.  She also was a fan of my new quote, "When I go out with someone I want a partner in crime, not a sidekick."  It's a CQ (or Custom Quote).

None of these events were scheduled except for the entertainment center.  Sunday I was planning to go see Pink Martini at the Meyerson, but I didn't make it.  I wasn't feeling well so Weezy and I sat around and watched movies.

Sunday night, RJ (the eldest) returned from her "tubing at the lake" expedition all tired and sun burnt.  She whined about it, but I think she secretly had lots of fun.

I never did have plans for Monday so Monday was again spent mostly watching movies.  I think I feel worse today (Monday) than I did yesterday.  I've been overdosing on cold medicine during the day and Nyquil at night.