Monday, March 30, 2020

The Man Who Never Returned

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. I created the blog to keep family informed while I took my mom on a cruise to Greece.

Day 3:

"Did he ever return, No he never returned And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Bos, er, ah, New York City
He's the man who never returned."

Ah yes, it seemed so simple a task, take a shuttle, get on the subway and head into the city to find B and H photo on the corner of 9th and 34th. I mean how hard could it be for a seasoned traveler of NYC to get from one place and back. The streets are a simple grid. The subway is everywhere. Easy. Think again ol faithful reader, think again.

Mom was up before me today at about 6:30 a.m. We had a light breakfast, and after some thought, she stayed behind and I went to find B&H to pick up a charger for the camera. Little did I know, but as a direct result of the Dodgers failing to stay in the playoffs, today was the “ticker tape” parade for the hated NY Yankeese. Every Deter lover for a hundred miles was headed to lower Manhattan this morning. Actually, since they had won, they were in a quite jovial mood, many almost seemed pleasant.

Before we could get to my mid-town stop, the train ended up stuck for awhile, about four stops prior to my departure point. I decided to jump off and walk the rest of the way. Now, mid-town is really not too bad, but today seemed to have a disproportionate number of homeless wandering around looking for handouts. And the crowds were not as friendly as the subways goers, even so, I found my way to B&H.

If you have any interest in photography or videography, B&H is Mecca. The store is huge, you don’t carry your purchases, they put them in carriers and send them whizzing through the store on overhead conveyor belts. So as you walk around there is a constant whirling noise as products head to the cashier stations. When your done shopping you go to a counter with your purchase receipts, and while your paying, a clerk gathers everything up. Got what I needed and started to head back.

This is where it got a little weird. I decided to just walk up-town and catch the subway back to Jamaica NY at about 50th street. When I got to 50th, I could not find an entrance. Finally I found a red line entrance near Radio City and just figured I would ride to the connection point and transfer to the Blue E line. When I looked at the map, it showed the connection point just three streets up, so I walked. Took me twice around the block before I found the entrance. I got a little confused but finally got to the end of the subway ride. Still several miles from my hotel, I hailed a cab. Most of the time, NY cabbies are attempting to set a land speed record for the 1/8 mile. This guy had no idea where he was going and came to a complete stop at several points on the highway asking me if he should veer right or left. Like I would know. He kept hitting the breaks and almost stopping in the middle of the street. I finally managed to guide him to the hotel, which is where I now find myself.

We plan on checking out at about 3 p.m. and heading over to the airport to catch the over-night flight to Venice. Hopefully I can sleep on the plane.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

And So It Begins

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. I created the blog to keep family informed while I took my mom on a cruise to Greece.

Day 2:

We have arrived in NYC. No real issues on the trip in, was a pretty nice flight. We have already realized that we forgot a few things, but as Pauline pointed out, there are stores in NY.

Mom is out. She stayed up all night and all day today. Our hotel is near the airport, about 12 miles from the city in what is basically an industrial area.

We had dinner here in the hotel. When we went to the restaurant, it really seemed to be pretty average. Nothing special. Turned out to be good. Mom really enjoyed her meal.

Tomorrow, going to let mom sleep in, I need to get into town and get a charger for the camera. We will check out in the late afternoon, and head to Venice overnight.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Looking Back

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. I created the blog to keep family informed while I took my mom on a cruise to Greece.

Here is the first entry:

It's 10:30 p.m. In less than four hours I take off with my mom on our whirlwind trip first, to New York City, than to Venice Italy. From Venice we board a cruise and travel to the Greek Islands, Croatia, and return to Venice. After spending one more night in Italy, we return to NYC for two days and return home.

It's not a trip I ever considered taking, my thoughts have always been of traveling to Scotland where most of my family hails from. But this is something my mom has always wanted to do, so I'm in. The more I worked on putting it together, the more excited I have gotten. At this point, I can't even sleep.

It's been months of planning, and we have already hit a couple of bumps. Nothing big. Mom hurt her back last week, and I decided to get a cold just a few days before leaving. Today as I was packing, I noticed that the charger my friend from Canon sent me to use didn't match the camera. So I guess my first stop tomorrow will be at B and H photo in NYC. Which is kinda cool, I have always wanted to go there.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Not Going Anywhere

Last night I started to write a new blog post “Should I Stay, or Should I Go.”

The thought behind the post was based on the current concern over the COVID-19 Virus.

I’ve been waiting to start my travel adventures for many years. When my wife and I got married 37 years ago, we dreamed that one day we would travel the world, see the sights and enjoy life.

But because our families were on opposite coasts, we spent our vacations visiting whichever family was farthest from where we were living at the time. We always said we would travel in our “Golden Years.”

Finally, in the last year, we began taking our first “real” vacations. Our first was to England in September 2019. The trip was everything we had hoped for, and on our return, we began to look forward to our next adventures.

We signed up for a Panama Canal cruise, starting in Florida in late April 2020, traveling thru the canal, arriving in Los Angeles in mid-May.

We chose a mini suite, made arraignments for our shore excursions and waited for months for our embark date.

I even booked us first class flights to get us to the cruise port, the first time I ever ponied up to sit in the front of the plane. It was to be the perfect trip. We were even scheduled to be in Cabo on my wife’s birthday. She wanted to swim with the dolphins on that day, something I knew for years was a “bucket list” item for her.

I also booked a quick trip to Vancouver BC for our 37th anniversary in March 2020.

Then came news of the COVID-19 virus.

We watched as the virus spread and we were surprised as the world began to panic. Then came the closures.

We debated the pros and cons of cancelling our cruise and made the decision to go anyway.

It looked like the decision was going to pay off, literally, the cruise line was giving us a credit of $200 on our ship board account.

Then yesterday morning, Princess Cruises made the decision for us. They put all their ships on a 60 day stand-down. Our trip was 45 days out.

My first thought was that they were over-reacting. They had increased screening, they were checking temps of passengers and crew, and had made changes that decreased the risk to passengers and crew.
But, even though I think they are taking it too far, I can respect the decision.

It wasn't the first time we had trouble while traveling.

Years ago, we were involved in what Jet Blue Airlines refers to as the “Albuquerque Incident.”
It started out as a typical vacation visit to the family on the East coast.
Not long after we arrived, I began to feel a little sick. I ended up spending the better part of two weeks in bed with an extreme fever. During the “vacation,” my wife hauled me off to urgent care or the emergency room three times. After two weeks on antibiotics and pain killers, I was ready to head home. We made one last trip to the ER, where the doctor cleared me to fly home.
After boarding our Jet Blue flight at Boston’s Logan Airport, the first announcement over the public address system explained that we would all be getting a voucher for $25 towards our next flight. The reason – our “direct” flight would have to take on fuel in Albuquerque New Mexico.
The pilot told us that because of headwinds, the plane couldn’t carry enough fuel to safely make it from Boston to Long Beach, California. It seemed like a reasonable accommodation, we wouldn’t go to a gate, just land, fuel and be off.
I won’t go into all the details of the flight, but I will tell you it ended in Albuquerque with a Class A ground handling incident. (I’ll write about the Albuquerque Incident in a couple of days)
Once there was an entire plane full of Jet Blue passengers stuck in a remote corner of an airport in New Mexico, the Jet Blue team went to work.
They arraigned for hotels for all the passengers, found transportation and got everyone checked in for a few hours of sleep (I think it had been about 18 hours since we left Boston).
The next morning, we all got wake up calls, and proceeded to breakfast buffets set up in our hotels. After breakfast and a few minutes to get ready, they transported us to the airport.
When we arrived at security, we were greeted by escorts and taken immediately to our gate.
At the gate there were several members of Jet Blue upper management, flown in overnight to make sure we didn’t have any further problems.
Once airborne, they informed us that our flight cost would be refunded and we would all receive a voucher for a free flight anywhere they flew.
A couple of days after we arrived home, Jet Blue called the house to see if we had incurred any additional expenses. If we had, they were going to send us a reimbursement check.
I cannot imagine anything else they could have done. The problems were not caused by their actions, but they stood up and took care of all the passengers.
I have been a loyal Jet Blue customer ever since. I even invested in Jet Blue stock
This week, Princess Cruise Line made a difficult decision. Putting all their ships in port to make sure that they provide the safest possible experience, even though it’s costing them a lot of money.
They are putting their corporate values and customer service above corporate profit. That’s rare in this world.
They may have just made me a lifetime customer. Oh yeah, I did just invest in their stock.