A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about flying

A Visit to Bruges

Bruges and the castle of the Van Coloen's

semi-overcast 72 °F

It is good to be back in Belgium, the countryside is so green, air is good, food is good.

We headed out, not so early, to Bruges. This is a city in the Northern part of Belgium, about 1 hour away. We all piled into the van and had a roomy ride.
1st stop was a castle belonging to the family of Ghislain, an uncle’s family of the Van Coloen. http://www.kasteelvanloppem.be/infoen.html Ghislan said that they would visit on occasion when he was young. Now they go once every 4 years I believe. The castle is a large building that contains a chapel on one end and the residence on the other end.

On the grounds, near the entry, is a labyrinth with paths separated by hedges. The point of the labyrinth is to get to the center where there is a tree with benches to rest, then to find the way back.

The path of the labyrinth is wide enough for a wheelchair so we were able to push Sunny thru, while she gave directions. Elias, Bel and Charlotte ran thru, back and forth between the dead ends. Dale and I got stuck and couldn’t find the way but we got to a place where they could see the top of our heads. By calling out (a little like Marco Polo) we found each other. Kids running back and forth, us pushing a wheelchair; we were quite a sight!

From the castle we went on to the center of Bruges. There we found lunch of North Sea Shrimp, a specialty of the area. These shrimp are very small but so yummy.
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We had hoped to have the kids walk up to the bell tower but it was closed so we had to bury our sorrow in fine Belgium chocolate. Alas!
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Posted by Miss Chris 10:46 Archived in Belgium Tagged flying travel driving friends europe belgium bruges Comments (0)

Brussels, The Next Leg

semi-overcast 70 °F

We had a 3 a.m. wakeup call and were out the door by 4m. Off to the airport for Brussels.

We arrived in Brussels on time and a travel hint here: I did a little research and found that regional airlines were much cheaper but with lots of bad reviews. I checked with our friends who said that if we followed their rules we’d be fine.

I found info on all of the regional airlines and then checked each out, deciding that we would fly on Ryanair. If you want to travel between countries I’d highly recommend checking out the regional. Read the details and all rules. I found that our carry one were just a little too big by using a sewing tape with both cm and in.

By reading all the rules we flew, Sunny and I, for about $120.00 total. Tickets were $20.00 each, $25.00 for each bag, $10 to upgrade each seat. One must check in up to 30 days in advance so I did that before leaving. If one does not check in and print their birding pass before there is a $75.00 to do that at the counter.

The flight was great, we had no issues. Everyone was nice but there are no perks. For the price we will always fly the regional airlines over the big airlines.

In Brussels we got out of the airport we found our friends , Charlotte and her dad Ghislain We found a coffee place and sat down to wait for Dale and the kids. We took the time to catch up on news.

We had a rendezvous with Dale, Elias and Belo in the airport. What a great place to meet up. We picked up our rental car, a 9 passenger vw van, and we were off.IMG_201406..409_450__1_.jpg

I drove the car, the first stick shift in a long time. I couldn’t get the van into reverse so had to ask Avis to tell me the hint, pull up on the shift. I was a little nervous but drove thru Brussels with the completely incompetent instructions from our friend. After driving in a couple of circles we found the house where Pascaline was waiting for us.

A little about Pascaline: she was our very first exchange student, on a summer program, in 1979. We have been friends with her entire family since then. Pascaline's mother, Therese use to visit us every year and go on vacation with us. Now Pascaline's daughter comes to visit us. Our granddaughter has come to Belgium as have all of our boys. It is the circle of visiting.

Dinner and fabulous French wines then much needed sleep.
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Posted by Miss Chris 01:46 Archived in Belgium Tagged flying travel belgium brussels grandkids ryanair Comments (0)

And It's Off to New York

Off to work on Hurricane Sandy stuff.

I’d barely been home for a week when I got the call to go to New York. There is some program for Hurricane Sandy claims and I was asked to work as an inspector for the program. I had a choice of dates I could arrive so chose the last one possible. I chose to start on Friday; I’d fly on Thursday, arrive in the evening then attend the workshop all day Friday. Flight was booked and I got myself ready to go. Fortunately I’d never unpacked from Toronto so I didn’t have too much to do.
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I’d gotten a late morning flight, probably not the greatest idea but I thought that it would give me time at home and still get into New York at about 9pm. I got a room at the Extended Stay; a friend had already arranged a good rate for us adjusters. It was about 20 min from the meeting on Friday a.m.
Dale dropped me off at the airport with my 2 large bags, each about 50#, plus roll carry on, Ferrari bag, camera bag and purse. Again, since seasons were changing I brought both warm and cool weather clothes.

I checked in, checked the bags and went on down to the gate. After sitting and sitting it was announced that the plane was going to be late. Then it was announced that it would be later. Finally the plane came and we flew into LAX. There all flights were delayed, for hours, due to weather. Oh brother, now I was getting into NY later and later. I tried to switch flights but every flight was jam packed and late.

Finally, after a very late flight I arrived in NY at about 1:30am, tired and still needing to get to my hotel. I went to Avis to find that my rental car had fallen off the reservations so after a long line with only one reservationist, I got my car by 2:30am. Since I’m a Preferred Member my car is always waiting for me with no line. I got to the hotel and into bed by 4am. 7am came way too early.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:23 Archived in USA Tagged flying travel work airplanes Comments (0)

Santa Fe Arrival

Off to an eating frenzy of New Mexican food

semi-overcast 50 °F

Our flights were uneventful, but since I love flying I was glad to be back in the air. IMG_20130326_103529_537.jpg

Our flight from Bakersfield was delayed so we hurried to our next gate in L.A. only to discover that we had a good 30 minutes before boarding. There was enough time to pick up a cappuccino at the Coffee Bean by our gate and I sure needed that after 4 hours of no coffee. Since we made sandwiches and packaged up snacks so we had plenty to eat.

In Albuquerque, since I’m a preferred Avis renter I was able to go straight to my car without having to go thru the nonsense at the counter. You just go to the kiosk by the cars, look at the board, find your name with the car stall number, get in the car and go. Because I’m an Avis First member the car was upgraded to a small SUV, very nice!

We are staying at the Villas de Santa Fe. I picked this hotel 1st because of the location to the Plaza and then because of the price. It is really amazingly reasonable and really nice. It does appear that they are refurbishing the place and there are very few people here. I do hope that they are successful, but they are part of a larger chain so I’m guessing that they will do their best.

We only got the basic room for 2 adults and 2 kids but we have a nice, fully stocked kitchen with dinette table, living room with a sofa bed, easy chair, flat screen TV and fireplace/heater, separate large bedroom and a tiled bathroom. Lots of room and like I say the price is amazing.

We did walk to the plaza and ate at one of our favorite places, The Shed. They do make a gluten free red chili sauce so lots of meals are available. The building is old, I’ll check it out and report on it next time, but it is by the Palace of the Governor’s which is from the 1600’s. But the walls are not straight, doors are low, floors worn so at least it looks old.

The wait time for a table was an hour so we checked out the wine shop a few doors down and had a great conversation with the owners about the local winemakers and growers.IMG_20130326_201927_709.jpg

We are now sitting in our living room drinking a “Milagro Vineyard’s” 2009 Caberbet Franc. The wine is very rich, peppery, with hints of cherry. Wish we could bring a bottle home but alas, there is not a 4oz bottle available. So we will drink it all!

Posted by Miss Chris 21:52 Archived in USA Tagged food flying family wine airplane new_mexico family_travel gluten_free grandkids_travel new_mexican_cooking Comments (0)

Not So Quick Last Minute Trip

Travel at the last minute not so easy

Last minute travel, not all options are great.

So my son called this morning asking if I could come up by 11 tomorrow morning. The new baby will have her heart surgery and they really need someone to care for the 16 month old. Babysitter leaves at 11a.m. and my son has no time off available so they really need someone to help.

I looked at United but there are no flights available for tomorrow morning. The flight for early a.m. isn’t available. Then looked at Amtrak but that arrives at 11:40. It is only $49 but just a little too late and the return is too early. Looked at rental cars, esh- $120 + gas. Realized that I’ll need a round trip so looked at United again but it is $450 even though there is now a flight available. Looks like the best option is driving. UGH 5 hours in the Mazda, my poor back.

Mazda has a clunk but we now think that it may be part of the emission system that won’t pass smog, can’t tag it either but at least the registration fee is paid. Hope I don’t get a ticket for no tags!

I’ll try to leave at 5am. Dale peeled and packed 3 oranges; I cooked and peeled 2 eggs. I have an apple and a gluten free bar. Should make it to Petaluma without starving.

It will be good to see our little 16 month old. She apparently is excited to see her gama and points to the room I stayed in when there.

I’ll drive home tomorrow night picking up other grandkids on the way home. Wish me luck.

Posted by Miss Chris 22:03 Archived in USA Tagged flying travel train driving grandkids Comments (0)

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