Update your travel apps

I just bought a new phone so I had to redownload all my airline apps. Take a moment before you head to the airport and update your apps with your log in info. Now the flight and rewards info is in your hands literally. Its also good idea to save this info along with airline phone numbers in your email or cloud storage. These air apps even drop notifications on arrivals and departures.

Most airports have mobile check in you should also do using your phone. As soon as you get to the airport you should have your boarding pass on your phone or know you need to stop to get a printed ticket. Speed is the name of the game, passing security is the unknown here. I havent found a good app that shows actual wait times for security checks. If we could get that info most of the stress should go away. I know I am relieved if I think I may be late to get a notification that my flight is delayed anyway.

Travel well travel like a pro!

 

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Dream trip Day 130 Flight to Reykjavik, Boston, Bukowski Bar

Don’t you hate it when you wake up a few minutes before your alarm is due to ring? What do you do with those free moments? Go back to sleep? Get up?

I got up. I had all ready packed, all set there, just strapped my backpack and side bag over my shoulder.

Typically I used Uber overseas, it was a bit more reliable vs Lyft but I did ride with both at some point on my trip.

A driver selected me so I waited. I waited more, his car didn’t move. Over 4 minutes they sat in the same place

WTH man. So a quick search revealed my journey was less than a mile, no one wanted to do a short run like that.

I still felt I had time so I canceled this ride and requested another. And another driver sat in his spot for a couple of minutes before I had to cancel again.

Finally after calling 3x, a car shows up, a friendly chap is behind the wheel.

I made it through security with plenty of time to make the gate before boarding. Of course I carried everything, the checked luggage lines were always very long.

Be sure to always carry a pen in your bag. Borrow one from your airline, hotel, dr office, toss it into your bag and forget about it.

You’ll always need a pen for filling out the documents to get into the country.

Our first leg was only to Iceland, so perhaps just over an hour or maybe 2. A breeze.

Then we landed in Reykjavik where we deplaned 60’s style out onto the tarmac, into the terminal, directly onto another plane. We waited for 10 minutes or something.

We were informed a few times that the Aurora Borealis viewing was perfect, just stop by a desk in the terminal and they would change your reservation.

Really the changing of planes is a waste of time but hey cheap tickets. I knew I was coming back, I just had to do it right, get a car, drive all around the coast was my plan. Over a week.

Another take off and landing, perhaps 3 hours, not too bad. Enough for a bit of shut-eye, just meditated with my eyes closed. Tried to get into the music.

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I turned my slip of paper to the TSA guy who had me put both bags through another X-ray machine.

Soon I had to do the awkward take a photo of yourself, swipe your passport and hope they let you through.

The certified traveler option seems great, hardly a line. Yet it is the finger printing that really bothers me. Like I’m a criminal, they need my fingerprints.

I don’t have anything to hide true, so why not take my side as a US citizen vs presuming I may or will commit a crime where fingerprints are necessary?

I was fearful for an inquisition due to how long I’d been gone but no, a single question then the border guard told me,

‘Get in here, we’ve been waiting on yas.’ I was home, back in the US of A!!

Boston man, let me tell you about a city. I dig Boston, a whole lot. It is great. Bill Burr says Boston is like San Francisco except racist and homophobic.

I was so excited to find a hostel near the prestigious Berklee College of Music, one of the top music schools in the US if not the world.

At least I could check in thanks to the wasted time on that layover. I located a free bus into town where I had to transfer to another streetcar line.

We had nearly crested over the pass to merge onto the highway when police sirens blared every car to a grinding halt. For over half an hour.

All that for Hillery Clinton’s entourage of blacked out SUVs. Heard it over the bus driver’s radio, ‘Remain at attention for Sec Clinton.’

Man if that don’t tell you what is wrong with our political system I don’t know what else you need to know.

How can you lead a group of people when you don’t know what traffic is? Where everything takes 15 minutes to get to because you have an escort, all the lights turn green? Ruling class now officially.

I just laughed, whatever. I knew who I was voting for. Look Democrat Republican Green Party etc, they are all out for someone’s $$ not your support. Only your vote then they get to collect $$.

To my delight once I arrived at my stop, I was in the midst of free piano month. For the entire month of September the city had placed several pianos for people to play, free.

One of these pianos was in front of a coffee shop next to my hostel. Score!

School had just left out so I procured a cup and pulled up a seat while a couple of kids took turns playing amazing piano pieces.

The cool sea breeze was blowing. Cars blared their horns, people yelled. A lot.

I had spied a noodle house near the corner so that was my dinner of choice.  A steaming bowl of noodles in broth will bring most anyone back to life.

I checked in and headed to a place I had tried to go the last time I was in Boston, about 3 years ago my family went to a Sox game.

Bukowski Bar was near my hostel just a few blocks walk. I encourage you to read anything by Charles Bukowski you can get your eyes on. One of my fav authors.

Fortunately there was a 7-11 on the way, I get to use ATMs for free at stores thanks to my little credit union.

It turned out the bar I went to is cash only. Good beer selection, the ballgame on, good times. Another round bartender.

A nice night to walk home in the crisp Boston air.

Beer  Sam Adams Boston Lager

Song  Paul Simon   Homeward Bound

 

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Dream trip Day 129 Farewell Oxford, 12th Century Turf Tavern, Gatwick

I woke, showered and met my Canadian friend on the patio, drinking coffee.

We discussed the night as well as our brunch plans at Turf Tavern, build in 12th century, or earlier, they just don’t have records going back further.

Lots of fires in ye olde Britain so many records have been lost.

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You really have to follow a map to find the tavern, it isn’t easy. Down a small passage that at least has a plaque.

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There were 2 sets of taps inside where you ordered beer or food. You pointed to where you would sit, in or out.

We picked outside, it wasn’t raining, yet. I chose a burger, can’t go wrong with a pub burger yup.

The place to be here is out back, big tables, covered for when it rains and it does rain a lot in this part of the country.

Why, it even rained as we enjoyed our meal but we were safe and dry.

Another pint to wait out the rain then. I soon became enamoured with a chap across from me who was loudly talking over the phone.

He was soon joined by, ‘ah here he is, the whisperer! My boy, yes, you see..’ he was proper chap, just well put together. Long wallet, coin purse, watch on a chain, gloves, hat resting on the table. Everything he carried had some sort of special carrier or satchel.

He did indeed refer to his associate as “the whisperer” several times while they sipped beers. It was like off a BBC show or something.

I soon bade my friend goodbye, he was off to the north, I had a bus to the south.

Gatwick, home to an airport and a small village. There are 2 buses a day Oxford to both Heathrow and Gatwick.

One is very early, leaves before 8 I believe. My flight was mid afternoon so I didn’t want to risk anything. Travel over an hour pre-flight is typically not a good idea.

So 1 night in Gatwick, mere miles from the airport.

England has a great bus system, double-decker style so upstairs I went. Headphones on and we were off!

I love the rolling hills and tiny villages, cottages we encountered along the way. Lovely country. Need to go back to the north.

A long walk once I arrived to Gatwick and I was to my room. The airport options seem to the be the same no matter where you go. A bed, shower, toilet, tv all one needs.

I settled in, showered up so I could leave the next morning without shower time.

It turned into a rather long walk, stroll but I found a local pub. Caught my last footy match in country with a pint.

Soon some favorites appeared, scotch egg, chips, a fine final UK meal!

I sat with my new reality, my trip was nearing its end.

Tomorrow a flight to one of my favorite cities, Boston, via Iceland of course. It was only a 4-ish hour flight, not bad at all.

A long weary walk in a rainy mist was tough. I was heading home, the US, but where precisely was TBD…

 

Beer  McEwan’s Champion

Song  Led Zeppelin    Ramble On

 

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Dream trip Day 128 Walking tour fail, Canadian friend, back to Eagle and Child

Always confusion and chaos 1st night in hostel. If you needed to shower, you could find every restroom in the place but not 1 with a shower, bath.

Finally found it and washed the last bit of Cardiff off me.

This place was a bit high-class what with their pod coffee maker. I appreciated it but I must say those pods are horrible for the planet. I think they finally developed a degradable pod but for years they were plastic pods.

I had a cup while scanning the pamphlet list, hunting for walking tours of the city.

When I found 1 I noted where to go and found it on my map. A left right left or something and I was there!

But where is there? It clearly stated an address but it wasn’t there, the numbers jumped up over the address I was looking for.

No guided tour today, going to have to self walk tour. Wait someone is waving?

Ah ok its a Canadian guy I met the night before in the hostel. He was in a long tour of the England, Britain. I believe he had been on the Isle of Wright for a while.

We joined up and decided to walk the city!

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Just quaint! This was such a nice, quant place. I felt at ease here.

Aimlessly walking a bit, the subject of beers and food are brought up.

My Canadian friend had been to Nando’s before and wanted to try something new.

Asian noodles it is, that’s not something you see everyday. Twas good, I quite enjoy a good bowl of noodles.

I don’t think there was ever an awkward pause in our conversation, we got along pretty well.

He was a college student doing an extended trip because he had time. I advised him that spending at least 1 month on a trip is one of the best things you could do.

I learned so much about life and myself, having to figure out basic logistics. Where was I going, how was I getting there, where am I staying once I arrive?

I also felt that having to make decisions daily helps you get used to them so you don’t fret.

Do you know who the Inklings are, I asked. He didn’t at first until I said JRRR Tolkien + CS Lewis writing group.

He loved Lord of the Rings, had it read to him when he was a kid. Follow me, let me show you something very cool.

I took him to the Eagle and Child, we saw the Lewis quote and plaque with info about the writing club who drank and talked there.

He was legitimately freaking out, so excited. He was taking all sorts of pictures. I ordered 2 pints of pale and we sat down.

These moments are what I enjoy the most. We were both travelers but we had different perspectives, been to different places.

It felt good to help him find a place to share with his family and friends. They had all read the books so now they could see where the books had been discussed, maybe even read for the 1st time.

We closed out the pub yet we wanted to linger and discuss the books longer.

On the way back to the hostel we found an open sports pub so in we went. Instead of football on they had rugby cricket and soccer highlights.

We had a couple more pints before we figured out what to do in the morning.

He had heard of the oldest pub in England was near, or certainly top 3 oldest.

My friend being the true Canadian he was wanted another beer so into the grocery store we go where we get a couple of bottles.

We run into a couple chatting with one of the hostel workers. He is from Australia and is ‘fucking loaded, mate. My house has a pool, ac, sunroof.’

He had some sort of online business he started when he was younger and it was now automated, he didn’t have to work but a couple of hours a day, if that.

He too was chasing the sun, he worked here during the summer, saw the area and friends, then back to Australia. He only saw the summer and maybe a bit of fall wherever he lived.

We were discussing power, who was in charge, the dominate party as most countries began under a different. I want to say this was around the time Russia invaded or took back Crimea.

He showed us 1 of many videos that show a part of the world and who was in control of a region year by year, century by century. Here’s one of Europe. Fascinating.

Beer  Old Speckled Hen

Song  Supergrass   Sun Hits the Sky

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Dream trip Day 127 Farewell Cardiff, train to Oxford, the Eagle and Child pub

At this point, months into my trip I was bewildered most of the time. It was just unreal everything I was seeing and experiencing. I felt overwhelmed and still not sure what to do or where to go.

The only thing I knew was winter is coming and I did not pack for that. I had a hoodie that worked well so far but it was soon to become real cold. Freezing.

Had I been really adventurous I would have flown to Morocco. I investigated going when I had a week off in Barcelona.

I was chasing the sun at this point, trying to stay warm if I could.

The weather wasn’t too much better where I was heading next, Oxford.

The college was certainly a draw, the writers who taught and lived there: CS Lewis, JRRRR Tolkien, radiohead… Yeah I pretty much went to see what the area that radiohead lived looked like.

I’d been listening to radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool literally the entire summer. It is a great record but can be a bit depressing. It’s a good listen on an overcast or rainy day. As is Kid A, that is my go to rainy day record.

I didn’t have time for coffee and a meal before I left so I had some of the instant coffee with sugar at the hostel before I left.

At some point the night before I decided I needed to have fish n chips here, to complete my UK fish and chips experience. I’d had the meal in England, Scotland, Ireland (N and S) and now Wales.

The fry guy just smiled when I ordered and said it would be a few, had to fry it fresh to make it best!

A stupendous amount of chips with a slab of fish soon arrived. Enough for 2 easily.

I had time but still felt rushed. I mean, the train station was only across the street so I am not sure why I was concerned.

I left my still near full box near one of the many stoops with homeless.

The railway was small and everything was in English so finding my track was a breeze, especially compared to Budapest.

I did however miss my connection in Redding. I took my time putting on my hoodie then everyone was getting on so I couldn’t push past them.

I got to the door just as it closed and locked. Trapped!

What made this rather interesting was the previous hour or so were non stop. I hoped for the next stop to be soon.

It was so I jumped on a train heading in the direction of Oxford. Luckily the trains were timed well so I had plenty of time to get on the right track.

I sat with a couple chaps at a table. They both worked for a transportation company, or maybe logistics. They were going on a work trip for more training.

The impression I got was they went to school for a specific degree related to this job.

They worked while in uni as interns or journeymen, then received a 1 year commitment at this company. The company seemed well structured and promotions were clear and easy to work towards.

To my right the green pastures rolled past, a green blur.

The great thing about this train was I didn’t have to transfer, it went to Oxford where I stood near the door, ain’t missing this stop!

After a brief walk I was near University of Oxford, a storied place whose history goes back to 1096 but it is likely older, just haven’t found a document yet.

Oxford just feels like a village, full of life as well as proper people.

My hostel was a few blocks from the uni, I found it pretty easy.

It was small and cavernous hostel, winding around a few floors. I got lost a couple of times looking for restroom and shower, located in different parts of the house.

The weather was ok so I sat outside on the patio and tried to join in on a conversation with some employees and a couple of pretty gals from New Zealand.

They were stuck at the hostel waiting as they had checked out but their flight was late at night so they let them hang out in the smokers lounge.

After trying to jump in and join the conversation a few times, I had to give up.

I was hungry so I figured I’d find something a long the way. Literally the 1st restaurant I saw was Nando’s, which I passed up, felt like something different.

Jamaican! Now that is something I don’t get everyday.  I do enjoy a beef pie, jerk chicken, rice, all the stuff.

I belly up to the bar and order a Jamaican pale ale a local brewery made for them. Better than Red Stripe!

I got a couple of pies and side of rice. It was rather expensive for a whole meal, plus very large portion sizes. When I encounter this I just order a couple of appetizers and maybe a salad or side.

A few blocks away was the Eagle and Child pub. It was across the street from the literature department so that explains why lots of writers went there.

It was very small, a bit of standing room in the front before it opens up to a nice room with tables in the back.

Cash only too I recall, no cards here. This is also a real beer destination with 4 hand cranked taps of beer.

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In the corner was where the writers met for pints after teaching class. I sat for a good while just wondering what all they talked about…

‘Clive, what are you writing about now?’

‘Well John, it’s about a magical land some children stumble upon, witches and a lion I’m thinking of naming Aslan. How about you?’

‘Oh well I’m still writing about orcs, hobbits, faeries. I think I have cracked writing a new language for the elves as well.’

To my surprise they had last call just after 10pm. I wanted another pint, just not going to get one here.

Probably for the best, it had been a long travel day, I needed to rest up for tomorrow!

Beer Oxford Gold

Song  radiohead   Darkest Hour

Dream trip Day 126 Caerdydd, long walk to the sea, Maxime, party street

The day was overcast and glum outside. I wasn’t sure of what else to do but check out the water. At the time I thought it was the sea but it is actually where River Taff meets the Severn Estuary.

Everyone knows an estuary is the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets a stream…

I began my day popping into a regional coffee chain I’d been to before. I’d mention the name but they aren’t paying me so forget that. Flat white is what I take.

I noticed that in the US, which is called the States by Europeans, you get or pick up things if you shop. Europeans take things when shopping or ordering, ‘I’ll take a coffee.”

Also lack of free or discount refills is a bit annoying. They do have rewards programs but they require a separate card.

Why do we have to carry a separate rewards card when we use the same credit card for most of those transactions? I’m sure it has something to do with credit card companies charging $ for this info.

The long walk to the sea is via this strange walkway, sort of looks like train tracks which would make sense. Trains could pick up the freight from ships and take it into town for distribution.

There were a few houses, a bridge with spooky underpass that screamed for someone to stagger our wielding a knife or sleep under.

Eventually the railway/walkway turning residential, then commercial.

The ferris wheel was in action today but not many wanted a ride on a cloudy day.

I’ll bet there were great views on a clear day from the top bucket of the ferris wheel.

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I putted around the port a while, checking out the water, the people and shops.

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I walked through a pub’s outdoor seating, which was full of bikers and their bitches. I say bitches because that what I heard them calling their wives/girlfriends. Plus bitch was all over their shirts, jackets.

I get it, you want to appear cool and aloof but man, your mom and your sister aren’t bitches so why is your wife?

I decided to hit up a pub as it began sprinkling rain a bit. I hadn’t had breakfast even, just coffee. It was likely a bad habit I had developed but if you are hungry and want to save $  £ have a cup of coffee then see how hungry you are.

I selected a seat outside on their covered patio which overlooked the water.

I was about halfway through my meal when a guy come up to me holding a camera.

“Hey I got a good picture of you if you want to see it.” said a man who soon introduced himself as Maxime, from Belgium.seagull

“Oh cool, I was just in your country, great beers and cool people!” I replied. He joined me and we talked about Belgium, photography and Europe.

We decided to walk back into town together and get a pint. He had a train to catch in a few hours so that was all the time we had to hang out.

There was a pub just outside the city that I figured would be cool as well as close to the train station.

Outside the pub were many flags including a rainbow flag, I didn’t give it much thought.

Upon entry I saw several dudes inside. After about a quarter of a pint it struck me that we were in a gay bar, not just a gay friendly bar.

Oh well, this place had beer so whatever.

Alas my new friend had to leave so we said farewell.

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I popped into another pub along the main street in front of my hostel for a couple hard-fought pints. It was a busy weekend evening.

I then began buying cans of beer from a shop also on the road. I’m not sure that I could drink beer in the street but I did anyways. There were so many people on the street doing rather odd things I felt that was the best option for the night.

After a bit of watching wasted people light the wrong end of their cigarette, fall, fall again, or throw things or just scream it was bedtime.

A fine final night in Cardiff!

Beer:  West Coast Red   Glamorgan Brewing

Song: the Alarm   Rain in the Summertime

 

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Dream trip Day 125 Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival day 2, the cider side

Upon rising, I found a nice local coffee shop and settled in for a couple of cups of coffee.

I felt it best to use the 2nd day of the beer festival as more of a night-time activity vs an all day affair as had happened the day before.

Today was my big day dealing with a money changer. I searched my bag and gathered up all the random bills I had.

A previous money changing trip I’d learned they do not do coins. I hand the chap behind the glass window my bills and ask for pounds sterling back.

There are people with advanced math degrees and programmers attempting to find even the smallest favorable currency conversions, often changing currencies several times.

You see, money is a joke! You can make more money by just changing currencies, not a reward for work. Or is money for your time…or knowledge?

A part of me thought to save bills as souvenirs but then I thought, nah money isn’t something to save from other places. Use that money to see more of that country.

I had a few more quid in me pocket than previous, let’s check out a pub!

The pamphlet I picked up at the festival had a local real ale list and I happened to be near one after my morning stroll.

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Across the street from the castle, down some stairs is Hopbunker. 4 air powered taps of local beers were lined up and ready to go.

I sat near the bar. The pub has only a few people in it. One of those here knows a lot about beer as he is telling most anyone who can hear what types of beer he likes, what he doesn’t, and what he is looking for to taste.

Don’t be afraid about asking to taste a beer if you’re in a pub. Drink what you like, try to learn something about the beers you are drinking, such as the style or hop. Dark or light, hoppy or sour.

Also promise that once you learn about beer, you don’t become insufferable about it to others who may not know as much as you do. Remember we all used to know nothing about beer at one time, bud light was a legitimate drinking option…

I finished my pint and tried walking all the way around the castle but found I couldn’t do that as the garden extended quite a ways behind the castle.

With no plans I hit my bunk for some researching my next move and bit of napping.

Upon rising, I headed out to the Depot for real ale!

It was near dark, dusk  so still light but not much.

Not too much trouble coming in again, though they did want to give me another glass, which I turned back. I brought the 1 I got the day before.

Almost immediately upon entry, I was descended upon by a chap. He seemed keen on talking to me.

He was a cider head he told me, and wanted to get ‘bearded beer fiends to switch to cider. We need more people at ze ciders!’ he exclaimed.

I won’t say I was forced over to the ciders, but if I wanted to talk to a bunch of Welshmen then that’s where they were going.

I’ve had ciders before but they were very sugary, too sweet. Oak Cliff had a cidery I’d been to that made fresh cider, one made using catnip even.

The cider people seemed much more rural, hippy farmers totally. I was soon told to talk to an older lady who was called the grandma of Wales real cider movement.

She was so happy! I was poured an apple cider and it tasted like drinking an apple! Amazing, not extra sweet or anything, just pure apple juice.

I chatted a bit with the crazy, cider lady while my new cider friends stood by grinning.

They had been there a lot longer than I, so they were much more spirited. This made my attempts at getting them to try a beer impossible.

It is a funny human nature that when you get all excited by something you want another one to try so the 2 of you can share in the experience that when the other attempts to reciprocate, the enthusiasm is lacking.

One of the Welshmen located a table so we all sat down. We shared a few glasses of cider, beer. I still wasn’t a fully convert, just more receptive to cider when I encounter it like this, homemade.

If anything this experience made me want to make even more fun of big, sugary commercial ciders that were too sweet.

I shook everyone’s hand around 945-10pm. They were staying until close. I knew it was best for me to be near my hostel at this point, especially if I keep drinking.

Which I did do just that, popping into Tiny Rebel for a couple more pints.

I want to say it was songwriter night and I caught a show, maybe even sang along a bit.

Hard to know when you just drank cider for a couple hours with some Welshmen!

Onward!

Beer  Western Special Waen Brewery

Song  Gene Loves Jezebel   Break the Chain