This morning I woke up and wanted to eat some breakfast before heading to the airport – turns out our hotel didn’t have breakfast (even slummy hotels have breakfast, and this wasn’t a slummy hotel!). I had to wait about 30 minutes for the shuttle, but then was dropped off right by ticketing.

There were a couple other people from my canceled flight yesterday, they were having a rough time – their bags were all over! They were apparently in Birmingham, AL – you should ALWAYS have a change of underpanties (haha) and a toothbrush in your backpack or purse if you check your bags. Anyway, turns out we had to redo our covid test/approval paperwork. I barely made it under the wire – though I did have to point to the ticketing agent that my test was done at 2:34 PM and not 2:34 AM…..

Anyway, after my paperwork I headed to TSA precheck and walked right through. I then went to the gate. I was looking for a Dunkin Donuts, but it was the opposite direction as my gate. Turns out, there was a Panera Bread right at my gate – so lets talk about a morning win!! Already better than yesterday!

Our flight was on time and I had a nice nap on that flight.

When I landed in the horrible Miami Dade airport – I noticed that the drunk girl had made it on our flight and was in the same clothes as yesterday (even though she had two bags with her??). Anyway, I headed to the closest Admirals Club to enjoy some more cheese and grapes! Of course I did have to add a Cherry Sprite Zero in there and some cookies! I watched some Bosch, check on some work emails and then downloaded a few new episodes for the flight.

I had forgotten to write in my One Question a Day journal, so I did that and then headed to my gate. I decided to walk to 30 gates, instead of taking the tram. Sounded like a much better idea than it actually was – it was a LONG way with a duffel bag!

I was starting to get worried about an on time departure – the tropical storm was headed our way and if we missed our take off slot, we would be screwed for hours. Thankfully, everyone boarded in a timely manner and to much of my delight, my row was EMPTY! So not only did I get a row to myself, the flight also took off on time! Woohoo!!

And now, I am in the air. After enjoying a dinner of vodka sauce and pasta, with a 3 piece of lettuce salad, cheese and crackers and cranberry juice. We have about 6 hours left of the flight, and I am just so happy to be back on the road. Nervous for what Europe will be like with this Covid crap – but excited for the world to be open to me again.

It should be noted….one should not eat vodka sauce when they have acid reflux. I barely slept on the flight – each time I fell asleep I was startled awake with acid reflux. Made for a long flight. I ended up taking all my tums I had brought for the whole trip (like 6).

Once I got off the plane we had to walk like a MILE to get to customs. After customs we had to ride a 5 minute tram to another part of the airport – then go through security. Security of course here is all automated. Rarely do they even open your bag if they think there is some sort of contraband. The person manning the Xray machine is remote. The person who verifies stands at the end of the bin collector and uses 3D imagery to verify what is in your bag. Water was tagged, but its not contraband, so off it went. That’s right folks WATER ISNT CONTRABAND! Anyway, on my way out of their security area I noticed a bright yellow version of their x-ray stuff. Turns out, they have a kid friendly line. Anyone with kids is encouraged to use that area, its bright has pictures on the wall and the x-ray machine. Still no one has checked my Covid 19 paperwork – maybe they will when I take off from here?

Anyway, after a 25 minute voyage, I made it to the right part of the terminal and immediately headed to the lounge. Lounges that are NOT owned by American companies are so much more luxurious. I was able to get breakfast, drink some water and relax. I then noticed they had lockers – HOW COOL!! So I decided to use a locker to hold my bags while I go find some European Tums. Turns out though, these lockers are cooler than I could imagine. Need to charge something while you walk around? They have an outlet in the locker!!

Im heading over to my gate shortly – looking forward to meeting up with Chris at hour hotel in a few hours!!

Well, just my luck – I did not get out of Madrid unscathed. My plane had a loose screw, literally, in the engine there was a loose screw. So, instead of canceling the flight, they found us another plane 10 gates down. So off the plane we went, walked 10 gates over and boarded AGAIN.

We ended up being about 2 hours later than our originally scheduled arrival. Somehow I never went through customs here. I followed signs for exit and not customs, on purpose. So I hailed a taxi and headed to the hotel.

Chris was still out exploring, and was going to meet me at the hotel about 45 minutes after I arrived. I showered, changed and walked down to the water before coming back to meet him in the room. However, his phone was dying and he wasnt responding. I waited for a bit in the room, then decided to go get a big gallon of water and then read in the square outside the hotel.

Chris finally came about an hour later. Why might you ask? He got on the wrong train, to no fault of his own. The trains are not labeled in English so he guessed at which one would get him back here. He ended up in a taxi.

We game planned in the room for a bit, then headed off to find the big church in town. We went to the church I had found earlier. It was not the church we were looking for, so we headed to the elevator to nowhere. Ok thats not really its name, but it basically just stands in the middle of this staircase and takes you up about 6 flights of stairs so you can go and see the Carmo Convent. Due to Covid 19, this elevator wasnt in operation. So, we walked up and around.

After checking out the Carmo Convent (which was majorly damaged (almost destroyed) in 1755). It had some cool pieces in the museum portion, including two mummies. It should be noted that the museum had little to nothing to do with the actual Convent, and more to do with how archiology helped shape the city.

After the Convent we decided to head back down the hill and get some dinner. We stopped at an Italian restaurant. We ended up splitting a quartro formagi pizza and pesto gnocchi. We made good life choices.

After relaxing a bit after dinner, we headed to Saint Jorge castle. It was a HIKE to get there, Straight up hills BOTH WAYS. Ok it wasnt that dramatic, but it was a toughie. It was cool to be able to see the city from such a high vantage point and check out the castle. It felt very authentic to me, with the columns, bow and arrow holes and the attitude.

After St Jorge Castle, we headed back down the hill to find some gelato. I got a Kinder Bueno and Chris got a caramel. As always, extra tasty. We hit the grocery store on the way back. Got some Fanta in a can, snacks and water.

Tomorrow is another busy day, that does NOT include me getting on a plane! Woohoo!!

Swiss….cheese? Chocolate?

Thursday, August 15

I had to get up at a reasonable time today to pack up and head to the train station – because I am going to Buchs, Switzerland! I was texting with my friend Heidi and she mentioned her dad loved Liechtenstein – so I thought well I should go there! I couldn’t get a train into the country but considering it’s only about 7 miles wide that makes sense, so I went to the town that boarders Liechtenstein and has buses that go between the two cities and countries.

I found an Airbnb that looks promising, I got my train tickets and realized I am going to the German-speaking portion of Switzerland – so wish me luck – German is not an easy language!

I checked my train ticket one last time on my walk to the subway and I am glad I did because I would have ended up at the wrong station! I have no officially used all three train stations in Paris. Because of this change, I opted instead for an Uber because I did not feel like transferring trains. My uber came quick and I was on my way.

I got to the station about an hour and a half before departure. Unlike planes, there are no security checks and if someone ever does something violent to change that, the industry could or sure take a hit.

Anyway, I decided to wait at the tables until my train was assigned a platform then headed to get a croissant (when in Paris and all) and headed to the train.

This train is headed to Zurich and somehow it is not that busy in my car. I am not sure why trains assign you seats right next to someone when a whole lot of other seats are open, but they do. Luckily, all the seats have a little screen above them to tell you when other ticket holders take them – so after about 30 minutes and two stops I moved to the open four seater with a table.

It was a very uneventful ride to Zurich. Once there I had to switch trains to get to Buchs. A quick four-minute transfer and I was on my way. This train was much busier and I had two Americans across from me and an English woman next to me. The American man worked for Amazon and they had lived in Luxembourg but honestly they were both snotty and not that bright. For living around the world for the last 5 years, you would think they would be a lot more street smart in Europe, but it sure does not seem like it.

They got off about halfway to Buchs and some new people came on – new people with a toddler! Therefore, I realized no one was sitting across from us anymore and I moved over to let the little family have all the space. (And to escape a sticky handed child on a train)

I made it to Buchs around 4pm and headed to the ticket counter to make sure I could buy my ticket form Vienna to Prague (as I was unable to do this portion before). For some reason there was no way to buy a seat reservation on the train I wanted so I asked for the next day, but then realized I’d have to pay for it since my pass was going to run out – so back to the original day, but just taking a longer transfer in Vienna, all of 30 minutes longer.

With my ticket in hand, I was ready to find my Airbnb. The host, Markus, had said it was an easy 10-minute walk and was not kidding – 2 turns and a walk down the main street. He had left the key in the post box – it is funny because only outgoing mail is locked, not incoming!!

I let myself in and the space was updated and modern – perfect space to sleep for a few nights. I was getting ready to head out and walk around when Markus came home. He told me to head over to this old little village about 10 minute walk from the flat and I would see a pond and old houses. It was a great little walk – even though it was raining (again, rain jacket to the rescue!) I wandered around, walked up to the old castle and when I got there the rain stopped and a big rainbow appeared over the valley.

I hung out on the hill top for a bit then decided I was hung so I found a Thai place down the street. I have decided to listen to podcasts when I am walking – but often find myself not paying attention – so I am not exactly sure what is going on in them – and during the rain, I paid even less attention. That walk from the castle to the restaurant, not a clue what the podcast was about.

Regardless I made the quick walk to Thai and was the only one there, but the best part about Thai food is it is the same in every country, including Thailand! I ordered my food and started reading my book (it is very long, very, very long) and all of a sudden people started filing in. Clearly, I picked a good spot – I just got there a bit early. While I was there, the rain came down in buckets – it was crazy! I am glad I was inside for sure.

After I paid and the rain let up, I decided to walk back to the flat. On the way, back I passed a gelato shop – so of course, I had to stop – but it was the most expensive gelato ever – thanks to the Swiss. Everything is about 30-40% more expensive in Switzerland (I learned they do not have free trade) Regardless, it was good gelato and a great way to end the day. Tomorrow I am going to Liechtenstein and I cannot wait!

Tonight Markus came to get me to check out the fireworks happening in Liechtenstein, but the cloud cover made it look like bombs!