Monday, April 27, 2009

My Travel Journal

Well, it begins! I have always dreamed of exploring the world and seeing Europe in particular and finally my chance has come!

At 65 I was heading across the “Big Pond” (a/k/a Atlantic Ocean) in a jet at 38,000 feet going 608 MPH with a tailwind of 32 MPH and an outside temperature of -75 degrees! How do I know this? They have a TV screen in my fully-reclining chair on the plane which has a readout showing me where the plane is and all of the above information! Isn’t modern technology grand?! Here I was, heading off to an unknown part of the world, at least for me and doing it backwards! You see, my plane seat faced backwards! And, I can recline to sleep while flying above the Earth – Amazing! My trip will take me from Tampa to London to Croatia (Zagreb), Germany (Frankfurt, Berlin, Nuremberg, Munich, Stuttgart, Schwebisch Hall), and then Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice).
I begin at the Tampa Airport where I arrived a little uncertain as I had confirmed my flight reservation on-line and I was just not fully confident that it was completed as indicated! My beautiful daughter, Tami, who had surprised me by taking me to a coveted Jimmy Buffett Concert on the Saturday after I arrived in Tampa, took me to the airport. If anyone would be a good influence on how I approached my adventure, she was the catalyst! Whenever I visit her I feel refreshed, renewed and ready to face the world with a more positive attitude! She is my anchor of happiness!
I spent a couple of days in Plant City with my great son-in-law, Scott, my daughter and my two precious grandsons (Kyle and Ryan). This “stop over” was enough to put me in a wonderful frame of mind. All who read my previous blogs of my tales of woe may understand how much this visit with my family in Florida meant! Well, Tami dropped me off at the airport with a big hug and a “go get ‘em Mom” farewell.

I approached the counter and was greeted by a smiling young man who was more than happy to help me with my boarding arrangements. He then told me I could upgrade my seat to a “little better class” for $300 and get a seat that fully reclined to a bed! I thought about it, the cost and the fact that this may very well be my one and only trip to Europe, so I said YES! I also told him if he didn’t tell my husband that the purchase could be our “secret”. He agreed!

The agent processed my luggage all the way to Zagreb (hooray) and then informed me that I was now entitled to enter the hallowed grounds of the British Airways Executive Lounge! WOW and Boy Howdy!

I proceeded to security, put on my paper sandals when I had to remove my shoes, smiled brightly and hoped they would not take my crochet hook which was in my carry-on away from me. I passed with flying colors and proceeded on to a little piece of heaven set aside for those “special customers” of BA.

WOW! This was going to be good. I went into the lounge where there was soft music playing, big comfortable chairs and, best of all, free food and WINE! The wine was heavenly so I had two glasses. The room was quiet and serene and people there to wait on you! Heck, it was so nice; I was looking forward to going to the bathroom. And, guess what? The bathroom was in keeping with the ambience the room projected. Scented liquid soap, hand lotion, artificial gardenias in a glass container and soap in the shape of fruit in a basket.

Boarding time came and off to the plane. What a plane! I went into Business Class and found my seat facing – yes, backwards! My “seat mate” was an English gentleman by the name of Tony who was with his Irish wife of 47 years, Pat. He helped me get settled as there were so many buttons and levers to get use to!

We took off; I was served a Mimosa (orange juice and champagne) and then given a hot wet wash cloth to clean my hands, followed by a lovely meal and another champagne drink! Thought to myself, I can handle this!

The trip went well. I think I may have slept one hour and suddenly we were being served a breakfast of fresh fruit, croissant, ham and juice, coffee or tea! We landed in Gatwick Airport and were greeted with overcast skies, rain and cold! Boy was I cold. Made a dash for the airport (we were bussed to the terminal and, therefore, out in the cold for a little while). Found my way from the North Terminal to the South Terminal and awaited my flight for Croatia. The Gatwick Airport is quite old and one of the smaller ones I have been informed. It was bustling with people speaking with lovely English accents and had all the typical tourists shops and even a display for a gin I had never heard of - Hendricks! They were offering free samples of gin and tonic but I had had enough alcohol so far so declined.

My flight finally boarded and off we went, hopefully to a sunnier sky and warmer weather! Had another meal on the plane. By now I’m full and have no more use for food and all I wanted to do was catch a quick nap. Well, that didn’t happen because I could not get comfortable even though I had 3 seats to myself!
Landed in Zagreb, took a small bus to the terminal, went through immigration and collected my luggage to find Joan and David Cobb, people who own a lovely home on Guanaja (Black Rock), watching me through the glass divider! After hugs and warm greetings we drove to their apartment.

What a lovely city! We arrived at their lovely apartment and Joan presented me with Lilies of the Valley and Lilacs! What a treat! I haven’t seen or smelled these flowers since I was 24 and, as everyone who has read my previous blogs, I love Lilies of the Valley! Joan then took me on a short walk around town (which I will blog about next time) and we met David (who had left to go back to work) at a sidewalk cafĂ© where we had drinks. We then went on to a lovely restaurant called Paninos! I had wine, a fantastic dinner and lovely conversation with the Cobbs.

We returned to their apartment, ate some delicious cookies Joan had bought at the market and visited a while longer. I suddenly started nodding off and had to excuse myself to retire to bed.

So, my first day of my trip and all is well. Great experience flying, a new city to visit, wonderful hosts, good food and I have had the best wines in my life!

Are you jealous yet?


  1. Oh, you better believe that I'm jealous. A couple of things came to mind.....

    Uh, about that secret... Don't you think it is out now? Why not divide that $300 by the number of miles that you flew. Starts to seem like a bargain now, doesn't it?

    Checking out the you think that we who live in 3rd world countries start to get a little obsessed with bathrooms? I know I do. "Yeah, it's a nice place but what is the bathroom like?" ;-D

    I'm so glad that you are feeling better and that your trip is off to such a great start.