One more celebration….

In our short time living in Germany, we’ve found more celebrations here than anywhere else we’ve lived (Philippines, Hong Kong, Alaska and 5 states in the lower 48).  Between Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets, Carnival, and spring Mai-fests there is always celebration happening or preparing to happen. Important to note that these aren’t one day events but rather month long events (Carnival lasts nearly 4 months).   About the time Carnival winds down spring Maifests kick in because you can’t just open a beer garden for the summer time. Obviously there should be month long celebration preparing for the summer opening of the beer gardens. The beer gardens keep the celebration rolling all summer which brings us back around to the start of Oktoberfest and it all repeats itself. So pretty much a year round ‘fest’ here in Germany.   

We managed to hit 4 or 5 really good Christmas Markets this year so we decided to give Carnival ‘a shot’ (bit of a pun here as you’ll see)  as well. I wasn’t sure how people dressed and what exactly the celebration included but we googled some pictures and decided to skip the parades and opening ceremonies (you know how we hate crowds) but instead decided to join a celebration at one of the local brew pubs in Bonn that we had been to before.  

I dug through a costume rack at the local Rewe grocery store and found a few things we could make work.  We read the crazier the better so crazy we did.
See photos below…(also note these pics were taken around noon, quite a festive crowd so early in the day!)

Here’s what I learned about Carnival, don’t show up if you’re not in costume!  in fact half the fun was the subway ride too Bonn and seeing 5 to 10 new costumes boarding at each stop (Hong Kong would be 100 each stop but that’s a different blog story). Everyone is dressed up, it’s like a Halloween party for adults…that lasts 4 days.  In the restaurant/ bars, all chairs are removed to allow more room to dance! You’ll need to hit one of the street food vendors along the way as the restaurants are only serving liquid refreshments during Carnival.

You need to know these fabulous people are serious about their Carnival party!  Bartenders were walking around pouring shots right out of the bottle into the open mouths of carnival goers.  We managed to avoid the bottle but with every beer we bought we were given a shot. The first time these little plastic shot cups were put in our hands, both bartenders raised their shot glasses in a toast.  I don’t normally do liquor but not wanting to be rude Woody and I picked up our glasses, cheered and dramatically threw back the shot….nothing….no fire water assaulting the throat, instead just laughing bartenders as we inspected our gravity defying upside down plastic shot glasses.  Trick shot glasses?…Nope… Turns out they were Jello shots…yes, that was our first ever! Anyone that knows me KNOWS I hate liquor and I don’t eat sugar but hey, when at Carnival…..

Europe may lose in days of sunshine per year but wins in number of celebration days!

Take some advice from a Dumb Blonde, when in Germany embrace the celebrations, you’re bound to be here during one of them no matter when you come because there’s always one more celebration.

BUSINESS CLASS ALL THE WAY!

We’re getting ready to head back to the states in April and have decided to get smart on upgrade options.  This includes digging through all the credit cards that offer miles as well as figuring out the travel classes that allow you to upgrade.  

As self proclaimed Travel Snobs, our goal is always to avoid the crowds!  When we started traveling with Woody’s company, we discovered the glorious world of business class!  There’s nothing like strapping into one of those big comfy seats and enjoying all that comes with the price of it.  Glass of champs in hand, warm towel to clean my hands and a menu with choices of a hot meal to pair with pretty good wines…and yes, less crowds!

Those coveted business class tickets were only issued for house hunting and relocating to the foreign domiciles, any travel back to the states were on us, so to the back of the plane I go.  It would take all my will power to walk past those extra large seats with their little pillow and blankets tucked neatly into the reclining chairs.

I don’t wear designer clothes or carry brand name bags but oh those seats!  It’s more than just reclining and watching a show, it’s the thrill of sharing an adventure so we’ve decided to figure out how to book not just one upgrade but two!  

Here are a few things we’ve learned so far about upgrading on United/Lufthansa

-it takes anywhere from 25k miles to 50k miles to upgrade one leg.
-you can’t upgrade to premium (thats ok with me…sorry Woody 😉 )
-there are 3 categories you can upgrade from, economy B and Y class (35k miles)
Premium economy A class (30k miles) and premium economy O class (20k miles)

The Untied site says you can upgrade from O-class to their new Polaris Business class for 15k miles.  I’ve never tried the Polaris Business…wonder what you get there?

We follow a few travel blogs and found Expert Flyer can notify you of upgrades avail. And you can check availability of business class seats there.  “God save the points” (blog) says it’s a game changer, we plan on signing up and will let you know how well it works.

We’ve decided to use the Discover Card with 3x the points but might sign up for the Chase MileagPlus card.  We just booked tickets for the kids to come out during their spring break and earned some miles…now to figure out how to claim those miles!   We’ll keep you posted.

Take some Advice from a Dumb Blonde, traveling Business class without paying the huge ticket price is the only way to travel (albeit I haven’t experienced first and don’t see that as an option after all, how much fun can one person have?).


An AirBNB in the French countryside…

We began our trip to the self described lovely countryside from the Paris Air BnB.   Here’s the setup.  I did the hub turn Barcelona to Paris and had a 2 hour nap then went straight to the airport in Barcelona for the Air France ride back to Paris.  Grabbed an hour sleep on that ride so I skipped the nap and wanted to get to the next place before sunset.
Fully packed with the all important address in the google maps we set out.  At the first gas stop we found 2 large jugs of Adblue so we were able to remove the “YOUR ENGINE WONT START SOON!”  warning and we continued.  Beautiful, long, and somewhat ominous sunset as we were so close.  Then the fun begins.
As we circle a tiny road rotary circle in downtown Terrasson the GPS lady calmly says “you’ve arrived at your destination” ….Not!  So where is the real destination?, you ask.  Well, we have an email that says in Frenglish, (I summarize) If coming from Terrasson drive towards Brive and take a right on ablonan.  You’ll see a picnic table on the left and a mirrored turn after that and we are the house behind the trees…
 
A few clicks out of the circle and on the road towards Brive, we decide to stop at a gas station for a dog grass and to call the owner to clear up directions.  😂  Owner answers and speaks as much English as I speak French…none.  I bring the phone in and hand to a customer and gesture something like “what the F is this guy saying”.  The 2 Frenchies commence a verbal ping-pong match”…oui,…Oui..Oui?..Oui..”  Finally the check out lady grabs the phone and sorts out the directions, even draws a map with “MickeyyDoDos” (McDonalds) on it for reference.
A few dark roads later and we arrive at said picnic table and mirrored turn.  We pull in and I get out to find the “house behind the trees”.  A creepy, drunk French guy appears out of the darkness mumbling “sorry” and explaining he knows every language on the planet except English.  He offers German, portugese, Italian, Spanish..etc.  I don’t hear Taglog, Russian, or Chinglish as an offering so I decide charades would be our most common.  I point to the van and charade to him “I want to unpack my shiz, park the van, have a beer and sleep”.  Lost in translation he takes my charade to mean, “Please show me in painful detail how every appliance in your house works, and can I have some hugs”.  We finally unpack and rid ourselves of chatty French handsy guy.  In the haste to unload and park,  I was offered an “okay to park here for the night” spot.  It was a tight parallel and it become semi stuck in the grass against a stonewall on the back.  Figured I’d move it in the morning when people needed to go to work.
4 hours later… We awake to blaring series of long car horns.  Clearly someone is angry.  I assume I’m about to fight with 2 or 3 angry, drunk Frenchies.  I hoping there are really drunk so I don’t take too many shots.  I can’t find my shoes so I show up to the below freezing event in black socks, hopefully looking tougher that way.  What I find is a very angry lady driving who has 2 kids in car seats in the back.  Its a 3v1 scenario  but the kids can’t get out of the seats themselves so I should be good.  She angrily points at my van and yells some french stuff.  Not sure but probably, “I’ve been on the road forever with these two kids and I just wanna get home and your F*(kn van is in the way”.  I reply, “You speak English?”  She screams, NO…maybe him, little” and points to the passenger side.  I bend over and basically see a happy fellow with a little French hat and a goatee.  He proudly and slowly says in his best English as he points up the street past the van, “That is where I live..”  I almost reply, “No shiz, Sherlock” but decide he won’t get the Sherlock reference, probably not even the “no shiz” part either.  Charades it is.  I charade to him that my van’s front tires are spinning in the grass, and ask if he will help me push it as my leopard skin pajama’ed wife drives.  He looks confused but on que my lovely, leopard print pajama’ed arrives with the van keys and he fully understands.  He yells something in French to his wife which seems to have been, “Get out of the car and help us push!”  My lovely wife drives off the icy grass like a champ then backs into the grass, clearing the road.  The angry lady quickly jumps in the driver’s seat and throws gravel as she nearly runs me over.  French goatee guy is left behind to walk up the hill and he shakes his head in disapproval of his designated driver’s exit.  I consider offering a beer or asking for a selfie but settle on some mutual “Mercis” and head back to my “French villa in the countryside” with my lovely leopard print wife. -Woodman

  The house was actually really cute and they even delivered breakfast to our door in the morning!