Airplane Travel 2016

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 3


All trips start with a trip to our major airport: Los Angeles International, an adventure in itself.  This trip was easy: because our departure time was in the afternoon, we only had to leave 3 1/2 hours early as there was no traffic.  Park, shuttle, clear security and we found ourselves in the new Tom Bradley terminal, a huge upgrade from the last time we were here.  It’s in the same place, but everything’s fancy, including the treats you can buy.  Dave, my husband, is carrying my travel bag for me, and his travel bag is a backpack.  This worked out pretty well for us.LisSpainAirTravel_3 LisSpainAirTravel_4

Until the time they wanted to board us.  We were on one of those jumbo jets with two levels, and unbelievably there was a Southwest-style boarding style, where you line up behind the uniformed gate agent holding a sign for your section.  All the people down to the blue overhead sign were getting on our flight, including a high school band (in the green shirts).  One sat next to us, and at the end of the trip, he stuffed the airline’s blanket into his backpack and said “Now I’ve got a souvenir for my sister.”  Okey-dokey.  LisSpainAirTravel_5

I’m reading Deep Thoughts.  It may not be the best thing to read about dying just before you get in a silver tube and hurtle yourself across nine time zones.LisSpainAirTravel_6

Cute snack crackers, though.  I should really start photographing the meals we are served.LisSpainAirTravel_7

I was fascinated with these udder-like squirt tubes on the condiments in the Frankfurt airport for their brats and pretzels.  Actually a clever way to dispense the stuff, but I felt pretty silly while doing it.LisSpainAirTravel_8

Translated signs in airports are always entertaining.LisSpainAirTravel_9

Looking out the window of our TAP Portugal airplane towards another of their planes, with Lufthansa’s planes in the background.LisSpainAirTravel_10

What I did a lot of, while traveling.  There’s not much room on airplanes for anything, but I was able to get this organized.  I only lost a spool of thread once, coming home, and Dave located and retrieved it for me.  LisSpainAirTravel_11

This was the view from our bus in the Sevilla airport.  The airline was so excited that we were there early, but that meant that we had no gate to go to as there was a plane in it, so they off-loaded us onto giant people mover busses and take us to the gate.  WE arrive there about the same time, even a little later, but for their airplane “on-time records,” THEY are early.LisSpainAirTravel_12

Is this the best thing we can export?LisSpainAirTravel_13

I’m pretty sure this was in the Lisbon airport.  Building design in foreign countries can be so radically different from what we’re used to, and when it’s discovered after a time shift in a sleep-deprived state, it feels positively transcendent.

LisSpainAirTravel_15Barcelona’s check-in stations. After a wild ride with a souped-up taxi driver making phone calls and speeding through the streets of Barcelona, we were happy to be here.LisSpainAirTravel_16 LisSpainAirTravel_17As I gazed down on the snow-covered mountains, headed to Frankfurt, I thought more than once of that flight out of Barcelona last year, where the pilot deliberately flew the airplane into the Alps.  There’s always a slight apprehension with air travel, as we remember that one that didn’t make it and forget the other millions of trips that are just fine.  There’s also a vague worry about our luggage, and will we make our connection and will we get home to Los Angeles, all things I can do nothing about as I power through the air at 30,000 feet.LisSpainAirTravel_18 LisSpainAirTravel_19 LisSpainAirTravel_20

Our Easter treat on the Lufthansa flight home.  We saved ours, as it would be the only Easter treat we’d have.LisSpainAirTravel_21

Okay, here’s a photo of an airline meal.  And believe it or not, it was pretty good.  The salad wasn’t too rubbery, the chicken, polenta and sweet potato (carrots?) went down easily, and I was thrilled beyond measure that I got a desert that was something other than the hated tiramasu.  And look! Real silverware.LisSpainAirTravel_22

LAX is just starting to string up interesting designs overhead as we walk toward customs.  I don’t know why we are always in such a hurry at this point, but we are, so this is taken on the run.LisSpainAirTravel_23

I didn’t weep or anything, but this is a nice sight.  The hideous lines were not fun, as two jumbo jets had landed at the same time and we don’t have Global Traveler, but we made it through that crush, got our car, paid the parking, navigated the crowded freeways and arrived home again to our lovely house.LisSpainAirTravel_24Home, sweet, home.

Hairdryers and Toiletries

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 2

I’ve decided to organize this trip by topic, as I’m bored with the chronology approach, and also because I realized that often, when I scan others’ blogs for info about locations, I want the dish on the details.  So, since I’m a woman, and I’m writing this blog, the first post is around the creature comforts that make me happy: a good hairdryer and good toiletries.  Why?

LisSpainAirTravel_1Because we travel very light.  This is it: a smaller-sized Rick Steves travel bag and a handmade type-writer-fabric carry-on for: the computer, last week’s newspapers I always plan to read, the iPad, chargers, empty water bottle, gorp, pashmina, pillow-that-blows-up-and-goes-around-my-head-for-sleeping, and for this trip, my pouch of embroidery.  So, no room or weight for a hairdryer and only the skimpiest of toiletry supplies.  I know I’m not going to outer Mongolia, so I can expect some comforts when I arrive.

Olissippo hotel_3 First stop was Lisbon, and the Hotel Olissippo Saldanha Hotel was great, with a great hairdryer and high-quality toiletries, as well as marble, marble, marble everywhere.  The hairdryer was on a shelf, not attached to the wall, so I had a longer cord to dry my medium-length hair.  I’ll be writing general info on the hotels in another post (have to rate those beds!) so look for more details later.  I also post on Trip Advisor quite regularly, with more photos and details there. Olissippo hotel_6Olissippo hotel_4Body wash and shampoo were combined into one, but we also had bar soap, shower cap, comb and nice bathrobes which remained mummified in the corner the whole time we were there.  It was really nice that they didn’t have the whole counter taken up with coffee maker, and gee-gaws holding all the toiletries like the American hotels (what is up with that?).

LIsSpainSevilla_4New town and new hotel: Hotel Amadeus in Sevilla and the bathroom hairdryer is one of those things on the wall, with a curly cord which works okay.  Not great, just okay.LIsSpainSevilla_10 LIsSpainSevilla_11This is it for the toiletries: packets of gel, weensy bars of soap, that when I open fall to pieces in my hand.  The tiny shelf is loaded with their stuff and apparently I can purchase the shell soap dish, according to the price list on top of the a/c  unit in the bedroom.  There’s lots of stuff for sale here: shell dish, accent pillows, pictures.

LisSpainCordoba_4The hotel in the next town, Cordoba, was a pretty snazzy place, as apparently the Queen and King of Spain had stayed at the Las Casas de la JuderiaLisSpainCordoba_4aThey had a nice hairdryer, mounted on the wall, and it beat all the hairdryers in terms of output: heat and blower strength.  Just thought you want to know how I grade these things.  They also had the arrangement that it only works if you are holding the button down, something I’d seen on our last trip, which flummoxed me at that time.  I’m used to the button being a “cool-down” button, but no. . . it has to be held down to get the hair dryer to work.

LisSpainCordoba_5aThis is to show you the floating shower floor, a unique feature.  No drain at all, but just a slab of marble with about a 1/2″ clearance all around, so the water flowed over the edge and out of sight.LisSpainCordoba_15Comb, shower cap, body wash, lotion, bar of hard soap for washing hands at the sink.

LisSpainGranada_1Now we are at Granada’s Hotel Leo, and we are roughing it: no marble anywhere.
(I’m kidding, of course, about roughing it.)LisSpainGranada_2But what they lacked in fancy stuff, Hotel Leo made up for in Capitol-C Clever.  I wanted to swipe the shampoo, but I knew the packaging wouldn’t make it.  But that shower cap came home with me.LisSpainGranada_3Yeah. I can see the drain.

Moving on: We were so un-impressed with our hotel in Madrid that I can’t find ANY photos of it anywhere in my stuff.  Good thing because on the first day the hair dryer quit after 35 seconds–it overheated and the automatic shut-off switch kicked into gear–and so they had to bring me up one from the front desk: an old-style wall-mount hair dryer which I perched precariously on the edge of the sink while I used it.  The rest of our stuff had to be put in the well of the bidet, as there were no other places anywhere.  It was basically a hotel for students, but the location was great.  And the last place. . .

Hotel Praktik Bakery_2

. . . was Barcelona.  This is the bathroom in Hotel Praktik Bakery, a walk-through affair with the shower and toilet in separate stalls to the right, hairdryer on the wall to the left of the sink, and it was a pretty good hairdryer.Hotel Praktik Bakery_7This place is compact, but comfortable, and it was a place that gave us plenty of room for our toiletry bags and what-nots in the bathroom.Hotel Praktik Bakery_8Best lotion of the trip–I brought home all the bottles they’d give me, cramming them into my one-quart toiletries bag.  When I use this, I think of our perfect trip to Lisbon and Spain and it makes me smile.

Itinerary for Portugal and Spain 2016

Lisbon and Spain • March 2016 / 1

Mar. 11, 2016 • Friday
Leave Los Angeles at 3:10 p.m. on Lufthansa

March 12, 2016 • Saturday
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 11:05 a.m. the next morning
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, DE (FRA) is 2 hours 15 minutes.
Lv. Frankfurt at 1:20 p.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal at 3:25 p.m
Total Travel Time: 16 hr 15 mins.

LisSpainAirTravel_13March 13-16 • Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed (a.m) • Lisbon, Portugal
Hotel Olissippo Saldanha
Av. Praia da Vitória 30, Lisboa, Portugal

March 16, Wednesday • Travel to Seville
Leave Lisbon at 8:10 a.m. on TAP Portugal
Arrive Seville, Spain at 10:20 a.m.
Flight time: 1 hr. 10 mn.

SevillaMarch 16- 18 Wed p.m., Thurs, Fri am • Seville
Hotel Amadeus
Calle Farnesio 6 y calle San Jose, 10
Barrio de Santa Cruz, 41004 Seville, Spain

March 18 Fri p.m. Travel to Cordoba
Leave Sevilla (Santa Justica Train Station) at 12:50 p.m.
Arrive Cordoba train station 1:35 p.m.

CordobaMarch 18 Fri • Cordoba
Las Casas de la Juderia
C/Tomás Conde, 10, Cordoba, 14004 Spain

March 19 Sat a.m. Travel to Granada
Leave Cordoba at 11:27 a.m.
Arrive at Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 11:55 a.m. (in the middle of nowhere)
Leave Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 12:15
Arrive Granada 1:30 p.m.
Overall travel is 2 h. 3 min. (1 hour of it is bus)

GranadaGranada Saturday March 19 afternoon-Sunday afternoon March 20
Hotel: Room Mate Leo
C/ Mesones, 15 18001 – Granada, Spain

March 20, Sunday—Visit to Alhambra Nasrid Reservation @ 9:30 a.m.

MadridMarch 20, Sunday Travel to Madrid
Leave Granada “train” station at 2:45 p.m
Arrive Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station at 4:00 p.m.
Change from bus to train in Antequera-Santa Ana Train Station
Leave Antq S.Ana 4:23
Arrive in Madrid 6:40 at Madrid Puerta de Atocha [Madrid P.A.]
Metro to El Sol station near our hotel

March 20-22 Sunday-Monday • Madrid
Hotel Victoria 4
Calle de la Victoria 4
Puerta del Sol, 28012 Madrid, Spain

BarcelonaMarch 22, Tuesday • Travel to Barcelona
Leave Madrid (Madrid P.A.) at 5:30 p.m.
Arrive in Barcelona (Sants) 8:40 p.m.
Take Metro to hotel

March 22-25, Tuesday to Saturday am • Barcelona,
Hotel Praktik Bakery
Provenca, 279, 08037 Barcelona, Spain

March 26, 2015, Saturday
Leave Barcelona, Spain at 6:00 a.m. on Lufthansa
Arrive Frankfurt, Germany at 8:20 a.m.
Change Planes. Connect time in Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) is 1 hr. 50 min
Lv. Frankfurt at 10:10 am on Lufthansa
Arrive Los Angeles, CA at 1:50 p.m. and try to remember where car is
Total Travel Time is 15 hr. 50 mins.

Final Hours in Budapest (Day 3)

(This is the 22nd and final post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Tuesday, July 1

BudapestDay3_11We continued walking down the main boulevard, and seeing this one we both instantly thought of all the Communist propaganda that must have spilled from this building, the Hungarian State Television building.  It’s now been converted into luxury offices and apartments, or so says our guidebook.BudapestDay3_12

While I loved the stylized sculpture found on the side of a building under reconstruction, it was only after we got home that I was able to look it up and see what it was (from a Hungarian website, translated into English):

“Saint Kozma (Koszmasz) and Saint Damján (Damianosz) (3rd. century) Christian doctors [and apparently twins].  Damján came from Arabia and engaged in medical practice with Kozma in Minor Asia, Cilicia Aegea. Both were very zealous Christians and suffered martyrdom in 303 because of the the Roman emperor Diocletian’s ordered christian persecution. They were later canonized and honored by the Justinian church pilgrimage by thousands of patients in search of healing. When in 1260 formed the first college of surgeons in Paris, they opted for the patron, and since that time respect them as the patron of the doctors and surgeons.  The sculpture is located in the district on the wall of a polyclinics.”

They are often depicted holding a box, to dispense medicine.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1a

This was our destination: St. Istvan’s Basilica, only about 100 years old, built in Hungary’s millenial celebrations in 1896.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews7 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1b

Budapest St. Istvan_1 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews3 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews3aSo, no.  I don’t know why there is an 1851 on the arch outside.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews4 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews5 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews6 with DAEHi, Dave!Budapest St. Istvan_3BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1aa BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8b BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8cBudapest St. Istvan_2

This church’s claim to fame is the “holy right hand” of St. Istvan, kept in this jeweled reliquiary.  I like how Dave caught the stained glass windows in this photograph.

We decided to walk across the Chain Bridge–a Budapest landmark, and sauntered dragged ourselves that direction, when Dave found a National Hungarian Souvenir Shop.  We found our last chance for some souvenirs!  A necklace for me, and two carved birds for him were what we purchased, but there were many lovely things to choose from.  Satisfied, we walked on. BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge

According to the guidebook, this bridge was commissioned by Count Istvan Szechenyl, after he was stranded on one side of the Danube for week during the winter, as there were no permanent bridges then, missing his father’s funeral.  Built by Adam Clark by 1849, it became a symbol of the joining of the two cities: Buda and Pest into Budapest.  The original was destroyed by the Nazis (like so much) but it was rebuilt after World War II.BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge1 BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge2 BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge3

Yes, even here we find those hideous locks of love.  Done! we say, and find our way back home, as we’ve planned all along to go to our favorite restaurant.BudapestDay3_15 DinnerThe Matryoshka Bistro, across from our hotel in the little square.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner1 BudapestDay3_15 Dinner2

I can envision them in the kitchen with some tweezers, placing the leaves just so in the dollops of sour cream.  This was blini with lamb and homemade sour cream.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner3

I couldn’t leave without having the amazing cold pumpkin cream soup once more.  I love their “ham crumbs” and dill jelly garnishes.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner4

The reason why we travel: at the end of a trip, sitting at our last meal, enjoying the culmination of the experience.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner5

Dave had the rolled lamb ribs, mashed potatoes with butter, spinach and roasted tomatoes.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner6

I had the daily fish filet with roasted vegetables and hollandaise sauce.  Their plating is as gorgeous as their food is delicious.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner7We shared the desert, which I think is their version of “szirnykiki” or cheese pancakes (they are really more cake-like), floating in vanilla sauce, garnished with sliced pear.  We found out that this restaurant also supplied the ice cream to the little ice cream shop next door, so yes, after this we shared an ice cream cone, while sitting in the Loreinc pap ter (square).BudapestDay3_16 square BudapestDay3_16 square2

We watched the shadows deepen, the small children cross the square on the scooters, the office workers meet each other at the pub next door, and heard the church bells ring, calling the faithful to evening mass.  We drank it all in, knowing we will probably never come back, even though we say we will.  We lingered long, then finally made our way up the stairs to our room.BudapestDay3_16 square3

Sculpture in the ceiling of the hotel entry way.BudapestDay3_16 square4Good-bye Hungary.

Budapest’s Final Morning (Day 3)–Parliament and Environs

(This is the 21st post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Tuesday, July 1

BudapestDay3_4Yep.  Today is the day to get into the Parliament Building–the building that dominates much of the skyline on the Pest side of the river.  We worked through the concierge in our hotel, and they were able to get us in, for a small donation of 4,000 florints (approximately 18 US dollars).  But our time was later on, so we walked along this side of the Danube.BudapestDay3_2First monument is Attila Jozsef, a statue of a “brooding young poet,” whose most famous poem is about seeing a watermelon float by in the Danube, from probably that very spot.BudapestDay3_18 River with poet BudapestDay3_17 Shoes1This monument of empty shoes is one of the more poignant of our trip.  “While many Jews were sent to concentration camps, the Arrow Cross [the Nazi puppet government at the time] massacred some of them right here, shooting them and letting their bodies fall into the Danube” (Rick Steves).BudapestDay3_17 Shoes2 BudapestDay3_17 Shoes5 BudapestDay3_17 Shoes3 BudapestDay3_17 Shoes4This one is filled with pebbles, a sign of remembrance.  While we’ve seen many war dead memorials and many also dedicated to the slain Jews in the Holocaust, the personal nature of these shoes brought home the idea that it was father, mother, sisters, friends who were slain in that most atrocious of regimes.  It also made me think of continuing slaughter going on around the world–and how the cycle of evil and horror now continues in places I’ll never visit, and who will never have memorials like this one.

BudapestDay3_5We amble back toward the Parliament.BudapestDay3_6 Parliament1cThis show of five soldiers is going on.  We have video of them moving in precision, but couldn’t quite figure out why people were laughing–was it a parody?  But they seemed so serious. BudapestDay3_6 Parliament1bBudapestDay3_6 Parliament7Finally we are in, herded through their new visitor center which apparently just opened.  It was evident they were still getting the kinks out.  It took 10 minutes to get the crowd through security.BudapestDay3_6 Parliament2Up some stairs, down some halls.  We snap photos on the run, for we were always moving.  Finally we stopped at one spot for five minutes, where the guide — in English, for we had specified an English-speaking tour — spoke to us.  Then she flipped into Hungarian and repeated herself.  We had a double tour, a double crush of tourists.BudapestDay3_6 Parliament3BudapestDay3_6 Parliament4BudapestDay3_6 Parliament5BudapestDay3_6 Parliament6BudapestDay3_6 Parliament8We finally stop in this hall: the Reception Hall, where many wooden statues surround the columns, apparently the way that the “common man” was represented in these lofty halls of grandeur.  I snap photos of the different figurines, but it’s difficult to get a good shot.BudapestDay3_6 Parliament8aBudapestDay3_6 Parliament8cBudapestDay3_6bBudapestDay3_6a LegislativeThis is the Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives.  Gorgeous.  That was another quick stop.  Then we went past the Hungarian Crown, where no photos were allowed.  This explains why everyone was snapping photos of the replica over in the church in Buda.

Hungarian Crown
This is one I grabbed from the web.  Those chains radiating out from the crown are most interesting, as is the tilted cross: “The cross was knocked crooked in the 17th century when the crown was damaged, possibly by the top of the iron chest housing the insignia being hastily closed without the crown having been placed in it properly. The cross has since been left in this slanted position, and is now always depicted as such” (Wikipedia).BudapestDay3_6 Parliament9We were ushered to the top of these steps–where heads of state enter to meet Hungary’s officials, most notably a President and/or the Prime Minister.  Then it was over.  Thirty minutes of “seeing” and we were ushered out.  Quickly now. Right now.  Come on now, you tourists need to leave, because I’m a big guy holding a gun.  So we did, feeling a bit like we had been had, Hungarian Tourist Office-style.  My advice if you ever go there: put your camera on quick shoot mode and take a million photos wherever you are, for you don’t get to linger or compose your shots. BudapestDay3_9Back out, we go past a building that has metal spheres where the bullets riddled the facade in 1956–a year of uprising against the Communist Regime in power.BudapestDay3_13c Nagy bridge1BudapestDay3_13c Nagy bridge2Imre Nagy, the bronze statue on this bridge, was a pre-eminant politician during a difficult time, thought to be on the wrong side of history and was executed by the Soviets.  His reputation has since been revised, rehabilitated and his statue now keeps watch on the Parliament across the way.  I like the handsome man next to him.

A few minutes earlier, we’d been recruited by four young medical school graduate students to take photos of them together on this bridge.  In talking to them, two of them were American, who’d come to Hungary to medical school. I’m sure there was more to this interesting story, but they were off to celebrate as they had just graduated and were all departing for different places.BudapestDay3_13aJust up the street is this statue of Ronald Reagan.  While it’s interesting to have this here, it was erected in 2011 “to deflect attention from a brewing scandal” (Steves).  Dave refused to hold his hand:BudapestDay3_13bBudapestDay3_13h small market hallWe walked around the streets in the Leopold Area, noticing this small market–lunch, anyone?–but not much was there.BudapestDay3_13d postBudapestDay3_13f postBudapestDay3_13e PostBudapestDay3_13g postThis beautiful building is the Postal Savings Bank, designed in the late 19th century, with beehives along the roofline.  Budapest_Bedo Haz facadeBudapestDay3_8Art Nouveau buildings are all around, but the finest was this example (above), the Bedo-Haz building.BudapestDay3_10Don’t mind if we do.BudapestDay3_10aThis ginger-ale with a slice of orange was a welcome revelation.  How come I’ve never thought to put ORANGE in my ginger-ale?  I’m so trying this when I get home.  It was delicious. BudapestDay3_10bWe shared a lunch under this umbrella-ed sidewalk restaurant, enjoying the break from the tourist action, recovering from our too-brief tour of the Parliament building.  I moaned to Dave that I still had NO souvenirs, none.  Zip, unless you count the Croatian T-shirt in the red/white check.  Which I didn’t.  This was our last day, our last afternoon, and we still have a couple of more things to see.  So after paying the bill, we walk on towards St. Istvan’s Basilica.

Next post: Will she get a souvenir? and other sundry events