And finally, part eight of our Hamburger tales… coming home!

After we dined at O Cafe Central for lunch, Bill and I went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and get a cab to the airport.  I could hear Bill talking to the concierge guy, who asked where we were from.  Bill said he’s from Texas, which is kind of true, since he’s spent more of his life there than anywhere else (but since he’s a military guy, that’s not saying much).  The concierge guy beamed at him and said, “Ah!  That’s where Mr. Bush is from!”

It turned out the guy was from the Turkish part of Kurdistan.  The war in Iraq was a good thing for the Kurds, who finally got rid of Saddam Hussein.  Many Kurds think of George W. Bush as a hero.  I know a lot of people hate former President Bush.  Personally, I don’t think he was any better or worse than a lot of presidents.  Yes, America took a downturn when he was in office, but there’s plenty of blame to go around for that.  At any rate, Bill’s conversation with that gentleman was a reminder that perspective is everything.  Not everyone thinks the Iraq War was a disaster and not everyone thinks George W. Bush is the son of Satan.

Our cab ride back to the airport was slightly less expensive than the ride into Hamburg was, probably because the cab out used a fixed rate.  For those who are thrifty minded, there is a train that will take you to and from the airport from Hamburg as well.  We probably could have just as easily done that, since we had only small backpacks with us.  But the cab ride gave me a chance to see more of the city and take a photo of a classic Mini Cooper!

You don’t see many of these anymore!

Compared to checking in and getting through security at Stuttgart, getting through Hamburg’s security was a breeze.  We dropped my bag with Air Berlin, then took all of two minutes to get through the security line.  Then we found a little cafe where we sampled a couple more of Hamburg’s beers and I paid five euros for an hour of Internet access.  I would have just used my regular cell phone, but I let the battery die and the SIM card locked.  And then I couldn’t remember the stupid code to unlock it.

The McDonald’s at the Hamburg Airport has a nice play area!


Flensburger Weissbier and a Pils…  Nice diversion while we waited for our quick flight back to Stuttgart.

Our flight was perfect, other than my unfortunate decision not to pee one last time before we took off.    By the time we were airborne, I was in agony.  But once I had a good whiz, all was well.  And then as we got off the plane, we were presented with yummy Air Berlin chocolates.  Any airline that rewards me with decent chocolate upon landing gets my vote.

All in all, we had a great time in Hamburg.  I wish we’d managed to get to a museum or something, but just the people watching and food was enough to make me want to go back.  Better yet, the city is quite affordable, much moreso than Munich was (at least in our experience).  I recommend Hamburg.  If we have a chance to get back there, we’ll make a point of seeing and doing more and eating and drinking less…

We drew from the champagne bucket last night and the winner was Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.  Guess that’s where we’re going next!


I’d gladly pay you Tuesday…

for a Hamburger today…Last night, Bill brought me the champagne bucket.  As I wrote in the blog post I just linked to, sometimes we use the bucket to help us decide where to vacation.  Martin Luther King weekend is coming up.  Bill arranged for a couple of extra days off.  We put the names of certain cities in the bucket and I had Bill draw.  He ended up picking Hamburg.  I don’t know if that means we’ll be eating hamburgers, though.

I’m actually kind of excited to go to Hamburg, even though it means we won’t be leaving Germany for this trip.  I have never been to Hamburg before or really anywhere in northern Germany.  We have been to Cologne, but that’s a bit south of Hamburg.  Our trip through Berlin doesn’t count, since that was just to change planes.  Incidentally, Berlin was also a possibility.

I look forward to seeing what Hamburg looks like and eating some good fish.  Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and is considered a gateway to Europe.  A lot of cruises leave and end there, too, so being familiar with Hamburg could prove useful if we decide to take another cruise while we’re here.

We got a non-stop flight on Air Berlin that will have us in Hamburg in just over an hour.  I also scored us a nice room at the Sofitel.  I asked Bill how much he wanted to spend.  He didn’t know, so I budgeted $1000.  We came in under that until I opted to add insurance in case we have to change our plans.  I doubt we’d need to, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe and it was less than $50.  We could have spent less money on a cheaper property, but the savings would have been minimal.  The airfare used more than half of the $1000.  I gave thought to using a train, but it would have been a long ride.  With only three nights, we didn’t want to waste time on the train.

Interesting that we are going to Hamburg.  Just the other day at The Auld Rogue, we overheard the barkeep talking to a customer who said he was going to be moving to Hamburg.  The bartender then said Hamburg is a great city– one of his favorites for the bars alone.  This could turn out to be an interesting trip.

So stay tuned.  Pretty soon, I’ll be posting about another trip!


The champagne bucket…

The champagne bucket…


The champagne bucket pictured above was a wedding present from one of my husband’s relatives.  In the past, we’ve used it for chilling wine.  Last year, it became useful for another purpose.  We now use it to help us decide where we’ll travel next.

Bill and I have many places on our bucket list.  It can be difficult to make a firm decision about where to go next.  Last year, when we decided to go to Italy and Greece, we did so with the help of the champagne bucket.  Since we had a pre-booking for SeaDream that we needed to use, I wrote down the names and dates of four cruises that were in our price range and occurred at a time during which Bill could more likely get off work.  I cut the names into small pieces and folded up the papers, then put them in the champagne bucket.  I shuffled them around and got Bill to choose.  The May 11th Rome to Athens cruise won!

We’ve taken to doing this whenever we’re too overwhelmed with choices and can’t decide what to do next.  It’s sort of exciting to pick vacations this way, since it’s kind of reminiscent of Germanwings’ blind booking deal.  We’ve done “blind bookings” with Germanwings three times.  Basically, what it means is you pick a group of cities you wouldn’t mind traveling to.  You pay extra to eliminate any cities you don’t want to see.  Pay your fare.  Then you find out where your next vacation is!  It’s a lot of fun to travel this way, especially since most European cities are a treat to visit.  We saw Barcelona, London, and Munich by doing blind bookings.

The champagne bucket is somewhat different in that it’s not really binding when we make our choices.  But it’s still exciting to find out where we’re going next instead of trying to pick one place over another.

I broke out the champagne bucket the other day because we were talking about where our next trip might be.  Bill chose “river cruise”, which means that if Hebridean Island Cruises offers river cruises on Royal Crown in 2014, we may be aboard.  On the other hand, a lot depends on what happens next year as Bill makes his transition out of the Army and into the civilian sector.  We may decide to just stay home next year or go somewhere stateside.

Of course, we’re also very attracted to the concept of barging in Europe.  We were leaning toward Ireland, but after watching some intriguing videos of barging in France, we may opt to go there.  Bill loves France, even if he is very Irish.

I think it would be a dream come true if Bill got another job in Europe…  I can dream, can’t I?