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!

Ketchican, if you can: July 3, 2019

This our first stop since we left Seattle. Julia hadnt slept well so she was out on her own when I got up. I got ready and got off the boat. Here is where I met up with Becca (we met her on the first day) and her roommate. Everyone else in our group was doing excursions.

The town of Ketchican is super cute. The downtown area is quaint but completely supported by tourism. In fact, many of the tourist shops close down during the winter months. The town has about 3,000 people in the summer – about 1,400 during the winter (I should point out, these numbers change depending upon who you talk to). The cruise ships can bring up to 14,000 additional people during the port days.

Becca and I wandered around town checking out all the little shops. We found a little tram that takes you up to the top of a small mountain about the town. there is a restaurant and hotel at the top, along with a gift shop. After we checked out the top we ended up meeting up with some other cruise mates.

We all grouped together and continued to follow the elevated walk around town over the stream. We made it to the salmon ladder and I texted Julia to see if she wanted to join us for lunch. I ended up leaving the group to go back and get Julia at the ship. The two of us added Gina to our group and walked back to the larger group so we could all go get lunch together. We found a seafood place to sit and eat and chat. Of course I had to get crab legs – because when in ALASKA!!

We ate lunch and then continued to shop on our way back to the boat. Some of us just went back to the ship to hang out and the rest of us had to keep shopping – because we are tourists afterall!!

I decided to go get my cousin a Harley Davidson poker chip. He collects them from all the places he has been – but I feel like a little baby HD store in a little bitty town deserves a chip!

There was a card game meet up so Julia and Becky (who we met last night and I went to play. We played with about 5 people – playing UNO and SkipBo.

We headed from cards to a scavenger hunt. I was separated from all my friends – but man did I have a good time! We ended up winning! I love scavenger hunts!!

After the scavenger hunt we went to this Gen-O meet-up. Gen-O is what Olivia calls anyone under 40. It was just a get to know you meet-up – but we met some cool new people. There arent as many Gen-O ladies as over 40s – but everyone here is just so welcoming it doesnt even matter!!

Our group at this point became: Jess, Julia, Becky, and myself. We all went to this “fashion show” for Haute Butch – a female owned butch clothing company. We all left after the fashion show and went to play cards while we waited for dinner.

The rest of our group ended up meeting up with use for dinner (Julie, Becca, Lori, and Gina). After our usual dinner laughs some of us headed to karaoke – it was funny – but nothing really to write home about. Following karaoke – it was bedtime!

Aloha Maui!!

My cousin is getting married in Maui and that afforded me the perfect opportunity to head to the islands for the first time. With all the traveling I do I have acquired quite a bit of airline and hotel points and finally decided to use them. I first splurged on AA.com buying myself first class tickets to and from the islands for 40,000 points each way. Next up, the hotel. Since Hilton is my brand of choice, I choose the Waldorf Astoria – Grand Wailea.

Wednesday was my travel day, I set out to San Jose airport around 630am. Even though I booked using American points my flight was an AlaskaAir flight. I checked in, checked my bag and headed to the gate for an on-time departure.

First class was pretty amazing, we got a menu for our breakfast options and a great flight attendant serving us. I went with the omelet with cheese, onions and tomatoes. It did not disappoint. Sadly I fell asleep before the snack basket came around. You have to fill out a form declaring any produce or animal products – clearing trying to keep down the contamination. I’m actually shocked they D idnt spray/treat the plane like they did when I landed in New Zealand.

Upon landing I headed to baggage claim to meet up with my other cousins: Amy, Mike and their kids Phoebe and Juniper. We all collected our bags then headed out with the rest of the crowds to the rental car shuttles. I learned a few things about Maui airport that day, mainly that you can walk to the rental cars. If you have multiple people in your party send the driver to get the car and come back to get the rest of the group.

I got my rental car for a steal, $126 for 5 days. That can often be the single day price. The rental car process took about an hour and a half. But after I got my car, I hit the road for the 30 minute drive to my hotel. Upon arrival I got a lei and greeted very warmly by the staff. Since I arrived around 2 my room wasn’t quite ready, so I checked my bags with the bellman and headed to Mike and Amy’s hotel – Wailea Beach Resort – a quick 10 minute walk along the ocean. We got the, settled and immediately my room was ready, so back I came to get checked in. I was upgraded to am ocean view room, and I can hear the waves crashing from my balcony.

Amy I went to Costco and Target after we all unpacked to get some food for our stay. It was perfect – we were able to split lots of stuff and get snacks for during the day. We are probably the least efficient shoppers, but in the end we got what we needed. We all ended up crashing early, since the time change is 3 hours and we were all up very early.

NAB Las Vegas

I came. I saw. I did NOT conquer. I tagged along to the NAB convention with my friend and her husband. But before NAB started we had a fun day with my friend and another friend.

I flew out from Oakland on Southwest – always an enjoyable and fast flight from Oakland. My flight arrived 20 minutes early at McCarran Airport. I arrived in terminal 1 so I had to get over to terminal 3 for my friends – they flew JetBlue. There is a terminal transfer bus that comes like every 15-30 minutes. Im not sure why it doesnt come more quickly, because it was only like a 5 minute ride from one to the other. Terminal 3 was DEAD. I walked in and didnt see a soul other than the people who were on the transfer bus with me. I walked over to the baggage claim that is JetBlue’s to wait for them.

Once they arrived, NAB had a badge check in at the terminal, so we grabbed our badges and headed out to catch our Uber. We headed to our Airbnb. Our Uber driver was super friendly, he drove us to the house, we dropped our bags (we got there early and it wasnt ready yet) and then took us to the Container Park for some food. He actually recommended another place but the line was far too long. We got some tacos and walked around. The Container Park was a pretty cool place, little shops, little restaurants and a park to entertain the children. I would recommend swinging by – its at the end of Fremont Street Experience, two blocks down.

After lunch we headed out to Fremont Street so I could do some gambling! Kristi and I tried our hand at Roulette – she won a couple bucks, I lost. We were heading out and she put $20 into a Wheel of Fortune machine and won a couple more bucks! The lucky streak was on Kristi’s side!! After our quick gambling experience, we snagged an Uber and headed to a grocery store to grab some grub for our quick 2 night stay. Our driver was awesome! She waited for us to shop and then we were able to walk out, load the car and then head off to the Airbnb and check it out.

Turns out, our Airbnb really is a party house. It was apparently advertised as such, but the pictures didnt necessarily represent what we got. This is for sure one of the risks with Airbnb. The condition of the house isnt all that great – tons of beds, randomly created rooms with many beds. It was picked because we each get our own room – so thats a perk!! And we havent spent any time there really.

We came, settled in and then had to head out to the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Kristi’s brother is in the show and he got us tickets to check it out. Sadly, he wasnt performing last night, but we enjoyed the free meal and the show. We got called out for not being excited enough and had to act excited in front of the whole audience. The experience is like Medieval Times. For the meal you get a cup of tomato soup, a Cornish game hen, potatoes, broccoli, a biscuit, and apple cobbler- but no silverware! Which means you sip the soup and no butter for the biscuit! Hen was a bit dry (ok lots of dry) but I was hungry, so I finished most of the white meat. The soup was the best part for sure!! The show was pretty good!

After the show we headed back to the Airbnb for the evening. Getting ready for another day in Vegas.

Today we got up and we all had to work – conference calls and paperwork. We had a picnic outside near the pool because the weather is just fabulous here this week. After our morning at the house we headed over to NAB.

I had no idea what to expect!! And I wasnt ready!!It is the largest convention in Vegas – anywhere from 90 – 100,000 people show up for this show. The National Association of Broadcasting. So many people!! They take up the ENTIRE convention center at Las Vegas Convention Center. People come from all over the world for this. We saw like a tour guide set up from Asia. There was a lady with the flag for the group and then another gentleman who was translating for the rest of the group who had ear pieces in their ear.

We spent only a few hours walking through the South Hall portion and about 45 minutes in the Central Hall. We only saw about 20% of the show!! And thats just seeing – not even learning, just SEEING!! So many languages, so many people, so much technology.

We left for a late lunch and headed to Maggianos! I love that place!! Apparently many locals dont go there, but the food is consistent, and if you have a food allergy they take it very seriously. Its a great place!

We went to the North Las Vegas outlet mall after lunch. It’s a big mall that allows plenty of shopping! We got our 10,000 steps in between the two places today – and I spent far too much money on things I dont really need at the outlet mall.

Sadly tomorrow is just a day of work before we have to head to the airport and back to reality!