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Your Vacation Location

Some impressive panels from the Parthenon now kept in the museum.

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Yesterday we visited Heraklion, Crete, home of an ancient BC religion that worshiped Mother Earth Gaia. Because of Paganism, women held power in their civilization. I’ve noticed that when I visit a lot of museums with a guide, I get fatigued at the river of information that flows over me, so we usually buy a book/booklet for later review.

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Snakes are good, they keep the mice and rats out of your house,
and warn of impending earthquakes when they flee.
Snake Priestess, breasts bared, a sign of fertility.

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Wall panel depicting bull games.
 
Port of Kusadasi, Turkey, nearby ancient city of Ephesus, a very large and impressive ruin in the process of being restored.
In earthquake prone areas they have a tendency to fall down.

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Viking Agean Cruise, Post Vacation Part 1

Reserved this 8 months prior, what can go wrong? *

Ten changes to flight itinerary over this period, with seemingly weekly alerts requiring several periods of over an hour on the phone to reconcile. Good luck to you, if your are not a Medallion Member (frequent flyer status) and trying to communicate over the phone. I mostly fly on the Sky Team Alliance- Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM. Of the 3 airlines, virtually every change that had to be mitigated came from Air France or KLM. If I have the choice, I will choose Delta over the other partners every time.

*Disclaimer: I am a Delta Airline retiree, who lived in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) for 30 years.
  • IMO, both Paris and Amsterdam airports are currently ungainly messes from an operations standpoint, especially Amsterdam. If they are your final stop this is better than trying make a tight connection. In Amsterdam, we had a 3 hour connection and spent most of that time navigating the long terminals, without cart assistance, not to be seen, and standing in the passport check line for over an hour, with 3 of 8 processing windows open for business.
  • Never accept less than a 2 hour (3 is better) layover in these airports, if you expect to make your connection.
  • If there is a choice, choose Delta over the partners. Most if not all the Delta airplanes are new/newish, and feature new generous electronic entertainment with personal screens. Both KLM and Air France run 737-800 cattle car configurations domestically in Europe. The Air France aircraft did not even have wifi onboard.
  • If flying to Greece, any direct flight out of the US to Greece is better than going though Paris or Amsterdam. Delta flies direct to Athens out of JFK.
After being beat down with changes, we went originally from 2 legs over, 2 legs back, to 3 legs over, 3 legs back. The icing on the cake coming back was a 65min layover, arriving 10 min late, in Paris to navigate multiple terminals and the dreaded passport control. ;)

With the help of a magnificent woman, person of color, wheelchair captain (for my wife who does not walk well or fast over long distances), we achieved what should have been impossible as she flew though the airport, with me in tow, though all the secret corridors and multiple lifts, to the front of the passport line. We were the last 2 people boarded with minutes to spare. :D

Of note, when on the aircraft after landing in Paris, the Air France flight attendant went though the airplane and told the people who were going to use wheelchairs to remain seated and deplane last! I looked at my wife and said NFW, we would not make the connection. Being among the the first off and using a wheelchair was what made it work for us.

Minneapolis-St Paul Airport remains our favorite. It’s not huge (a plus), but mostly it’s a joy to travel though.

Honorable Mention: The Mile High Club
You’ve heard of it, having sex on an airplane? :)
My impression is that sex on a commercial aircraft happens in the lavatory. Never ever would I anticipate, I would witness this in public where the enthusiastic but quiet couple fulfilled their fantasy corner bulkhead seats, In a dark cabin with people (us) behind them and next to them across the isle. By this description, I don’t mean to sound overly critical of the woman…

Strangers on a Plane meet.
Aircraft configuration 2-4-2. They were on the side, 2 seats, bulkhead row. She is 30ish, he is 40ish. They talk, talk, talk, deep into the night. She is loud and for hours on end, we (with ear plugs in), can still unwantedly could hear her life story and her expletives, not deleted talking about her X husband. I actually started to drift off, when my wife nudges me, the woman’s hand is gripping the back of her chair, her hair is falling over the back of his seat covering parts of he monitor. The cabin is very dark, my eyes are not what they used to be, but I can see the siloutte of her head as is moves up and down, with soft moaning for effect. If I had been any kind of a man I would have hit the Flight Attendant call button, :D but fortunately someone walked by and the next thing, a male flight attendant was there telling them to stop right now.

The climax to the story was that after hours of non-stop drinking (her), I am tapped on my leg by the passenger across the isle, I looked and he pointed. Peering around the seat in front of me, I see her head with that pretty long straight hair hanging over the arm wrest puking her guts up, threatening my right shoe. Cabin lights come on and a contingent of flight attendants appear, not to scold, but to clean up this woman’s mess. The man’s description “things happen” and I imagine “I got lucky!” ;)

After things settle back down, she sits with her head on her new friends shoulder. So, touching, the start of a beautiful relationship. But as we stand up to deplane, after a short goodbye, she says “See ya! To be helpful, and I imagine as a parting shot, the woman passenger next to the woman in question told her, you got some puke in your hair.” :)
 
Heading for a new coastal vacation in a few weeks. The original plan was Destin, and I really wanted to go there, but I wouldn't get caught dead in Florida right now. And I'm white. 😄

So it's North Myrtle Beach. Not quite as upscale as Destin or Hilton Head, but we've done the latter several times, so NMB will at least be new. And they've got one required feature: a Browns Backers sports bar a few miles from the place.

For something a little more glamorous, we're looking towards next year. The plan is the Bahamas, but nothing's nailed down yet.
 
Tomorrow heading back to France for our third trip there. It was original scheduled during the year of COVID, even had tickets purchased, then cancelled, and now we are giving it another shot visiting some estates and gardens, in central France including Giverny and Paris., Today we relocated to Minneapolis to see family, and tomorrow catch the direct Paris flight. More to come! :)
 
France 2024-
After Tuesday (4/23) arrival, checked into an CDG airport hotel to catch up on some sleep and acclimate. It’s amazing that I can get 10 hrs of sleep, wake up at 8:00 (01:00 my home time) and still feel like I don’t want to get up. 🙃

Wed, (4/24) We rented a car from north of Paris, drove down to Chateau De Fountainbleau, about 3 hrs to tour the property. As we left Paris, fortunately the rain stopped and the traffic thinned. It’s Spring, highs in the 50s (10s C) shrubs are blooming and bulbs are pushing up and some have popped.

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IMG_3184.jpegFound in the Anglais Garden. Does anyone know what shrub this is? On the Fountainbleau Estate,
the leaves remind me of Rhododendron or Mountain Laurel https://whatistheplant.com/ did not ID it.
Update: iPhone 13 IDs it! Rhodendron, sweet! 😁


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We then made our way to a nice country home, with rooms for rent in Montlouis-sur-Loire. This time of year, quiet. I personally love the lack of tourists, especially nice when having dinner at a local restaurant. 🙂

Today (4/25) heading to Chateau De Chenonceau.
 
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France 2024- Part 2
We’ve been staying at the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere in Montlouis-sur-Loire. With off season rates I’ll call this an outstanding value as per the airport hotel we stayed at for 1 night which was significantly more. It has a large comfortable room, splendidly decorated with a big comfortable bed, and wonderful views of the forests. With a small number of guests, quiet and pastoral.

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I rented an economy, sub-compact (?) and ended up with a Citroen C5, a nice midsize, 6 speed stick, SUV. I’m in the groove now shifting the “new to me“ vehicle and navigating a bumper crop of round-abouts, a piece of cake.

Yesterday we visited the Chateau de Chenonceau. The wife saw this on a Monty Don show, Gardens of France and that was it. It was built for some King’s mistress and it’s not that big, but its unique feature is that the building started as a mill but then it was expanded to span the river. It also has 2 large square gardens adjacent to it, bursting with flowers, along the river.

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Taken with iPhone 13​

After that, I was very pleasantly surprised when we drove to a nearby small village known for its flowers, planted next to and growing on the sides of buildings and homes. The name is Chedigny. The place seemed almost empty so it was very pleasant strolling through.

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Today we tried another village, Crissay-sur-Manse. It was ok, but not nearly as nice from a flower perspective.
 
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France 202- Part 3
Have been lucky with the the weather, rain on and off, but so far when we head out to see something. Driving North from the Loire valley to, I got hit by another type of storm, an urgent need to take a huge dump! Fortunately I was at a gas station at the time and barely made it to the toilet. This turned into the runs which I have been plagued with for the last 2 days. My wife accuses me drinking tap water but my defense is we have been here, twice before, granted in different locations, but it has not bothered me before so my position is that the cause is unknown. Could have been some food! 🤔 Anyway, it’s a real bummer to have to get up 4-5 times a night to run, and have a squirt on the toilet. I broke down, found a pharmacy, since the grocery stores don’t seem to have any over the counter meds, and bought some Imodium which quickly seemes to have turned this situation around… I think. (just had a little squirt).


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Monet’s Pond​

In Giverny, we visited the Monet House and Garden. Since every place before had light crowd, instead of buying tickets online, I took a chances of buying at the gate… mistake, an hour wait to get in. 😳 The garden is lovely, but many blooms were already spent (there will be more). The famous Water Lilly pond was divine, the house was packed so we skipped that and walked down the street, to The Impressionism Museum. That was a bit of a disappointment, because there hardly any Monet works in there, but in hindsight this might make sense because all his good stuff has been farmed out to museums around the world.
 
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