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Archive for August 5th, 2013

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“This is not the Captain speaking. It is  Sue, who is a very happy passenger, accompanying her friend Martha who booked our intercontinental flight to Munich from Newark NJ in………Business Class!”

Martha flew up from Tampa Florida and I arrived Newark from Detroit Michigan on the afternoon of July 3. The old saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words will be proven quite true here, so as the title says, I’ll give you a few words and let the photos say the rest.

Special treatment begins as we await our departure time in the Executive Lounge provided us by United.

Pre Board Lounge

We flew on a United Boeing 767, a very large plane. We boarded as Zone 1, ahead of others, and when we entered the aircraft, we turned LEFT instead of the usual right turn. There upon we entered what United labels as Business Class, replacing the old term, “First Class.”

You will now see photos of this spectacular setting, which I had never seen before. You will see other passengers, customarily settling into their places, reading their papers, using their electronics up to the last minute. But me! No, I am the passenger, new to this scene, taking photos, perhaps being thought of as a “no-class”  category.

But just so you can see for yourself, if by chance you haven’t been in a plane like this, fasten your seat belts, sit back and enjoy the scene.

Friends UnitedMartha and Sue, Friends “United.”

We are ready for this. We’ve waited and planned for six months and packed with just exactly what we think we will need.

ready for 1st class flight

Ready for fun

The seats are actually separate consoles onto themselves. You always maintain the same space in front of you regardless of the position you put your seat in. The seat, reclines, lifts legs up, and actually flattens for sleeping and none of this affects the person behind you, as your cocoon remains stationary.  It was interesting trying out all the different options you had. I was hoping I didn’t fold myself up like a taco.

XZonked

The cabin attendants were upon us at once, with friendly, soft spoken greetings and offers of a drink of our choice, also bringing entertainment plug-ins, warm blankets and a gift cosmetic bag, and choice of newspapers in several languages. Take-off approaches.

Flying light into dark

We’re in the air and we study our information panel with its options as dinner soon approaches.

Entertainment Choices choices

I choose a movie to watch after dinner and music with dinner. I can also monitor the flight to see where we are at any given moment.

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EWR - MUC light dark

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We are given warm washcloths to clean up for dinner and a linen table cloth is set upon our trays.  We were given our menu choices and made them prior to take-off. Now comes the cold salmon appetizer.

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Martha chose a pork chop dinner.  I forget what I had but on the return flight the “lunch” was like a dinner and the “snack” was like a lunch. I chose a delicious beef filet for “lunch” which was like dinner. Did you get all that?

1st night flight dinner

Dessert was delightful. I think this is why I forgot what I had for dinner.

Dinner dessert

We left Newark at 5:30 pm and flew from day into night into day again, arriving Munich at 7:30 am Germany time, which is 6 hours ahead of US time.

Flying dark into light

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I made the mistake of staying awake most of this time. So not only did I lose my regular sleeping hours, I lost 6 hours on the clock “somewhere.” Oh well, you only live once.

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Martha and I were met by a Tauck representative who handled our luggage for us and drove us into Munich in his sleek, black BMW.  There was a slight rain falling and it is the only time it rained on our whole 12 day trip.

Going Home

So we had twelve days of go, go, go up and down and all around, so on the return trip we did sleep…..a little.

Skygazing

Snack wasn't peanuts

Skygazing…..a “snack” which wasn’t peanuts…….and after clearing customs, rechecking our baggage, Martha and I depart for different terminals and destinations back home……Detroit and Tom……here I come.

Return Detroit cloud formations

Interesting cloud formations over Detroit; I caught a flight to Detroit getting me in two hours earlier, with United assuring me both checked bags (to save carry on, as I was tired) would indeed arrive with me.  Wrong! One out of two did, as Tom and son-in-law Carl helped me check up on it. It was on the United flight coming in 2 hours later and they sent it on to Kalamazoo, arriving on our front porch at 4:00 am.

This was my view on my return flight from Newark into Detroit, as the plane was too small to accomodate Business Class.  If it serves as an icon reminder of my rather “plain” life, it is rather misleading, as I was overjoyed to walk right back into life “as usual.”

Return to Real life

This was an opportunity of a lifetime, generously given to me and graciously received by me. And I take each day of my life the same — as a gift generously given and gratefully received by me.

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Munich to Oberam14

That’s Anna, our Italian Tauck Tour Travel Guide, who sheparded us, played with us, instructed us and amused us and got us all to where we were going and then back again on our 12 day tour of the Alps through the countries of Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and the fun-loving and welcoming principality of Lichenstein. It truly was an “over the top” once in a lifetime kind of experience.

Hello again, Napkinwriter here. Since beginning this blog more than two years ago, I have not failed to post a blog or two during most weeks, with perhaps a few one week lapses along the way. Never, have I been more than 30 days without a brief tale or two.  And it has felt strange to me not to ante up to the keyboard to share a thought or experience with my readers.

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It is an understatement to say this was a very big experience for me. And like staying away from the keyboard, I have not even yet fully re-entered my normal routine of life, including my fitness class schedule, and gathering with my “regular folk” of friends. I’ve stayed close to home, re-established my home routines and the things I am working on creatively, and returned to many of my contemplative quiet prayer practices, which were kind of lost in the shuffle of traveling feet and multiple sights of people and places I may never see again.

So I think this means, I am regaining my center and “regular” pace and place in life. Which is splendid. I am so blessed to have been a companion to my friend on this grand adventure. My body will retain memories of splendid moments, even if my mind eventually forgets them.

There are two main reasons Napkinwriter has not reported until now. The first is: Just where to begin? So much floods in, I’ve been at a loss. However, I just now feel the first few clues setting in and I shall follow them.  The second is that I did not journal along the way…..very unusual for me…..but the journal will come forth as I unwind with some of the stories that will float back to me. As I sorted through more than 1,500 photographs (maybe that’s the 3rd reason i didn’t report), I was photographing ALL THE TIME!), I saw themes emerging and I saw the pattern of my days, and I began putting the scenery to the itinery schedule and found my way around again.

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The second main reason is that all my “techy” stuff was challenging, to say the least. I thought I’d be connected immediately with home once I was on German soil. Not! I had prearranged with my cell phone support help all the information I needed, and they assured me that with the proper country codes, I would be able to call straight through, no extra charges. Really? That didn’t happen.

The first couple of days, going with supreme sleep loss, and lots of tour activity, I was still frantic to “ET, Phone Home”.  Emails were not working,  WI FIs were tricky or non-operative and had to be set up each time we moved locations, which was about daily.  On the third day, I awoke and checked my Kindle Fire to see if  any communication was working yet, and joy, joy…I had a great greeting from my son-in-law to Frau Hajec, Goot Morgin! That night I was able to begin Skyping back home to Tom, and that was a settling feeling for me, even if I had to give up blogging and facebooking around Europe.

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But, really, I don’t mean to complain.  I will start my blog with the kinds of transportation, (including our own feet) we did throughout the 12 days of mountains, castles, beautiful villages, sacred cathedrals, impressive concert halls, lucious 5 star international hotels, grand weather, not a day of rain or snow storms. We went to the heights and back down below in the salt mines of Austria.

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I shall tell a lot of it here. In small tales.

PS — Add horse carriages to the title also.

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IMG_0989Sunday, August 4  Photo and Quote Blog

“The activity of God is everywhere and always present, but it is visible only to the eye of faith.” Jean-Pierre De Caussade, Abandoment to Divine Providence.

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