Intermission (Raisinet time!)

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I know ya’ll are just sitting on the edge of your La-Z-Boy with your electronic device by your side just waiting for the 4th (and mercifully, the last) installment of AGMA’s travel advice.

You might want to get up, stretch, visit the loo and get a snack.

It’s gonna be a few weeks because AGMA is going to be….

(wait for it…)

TRAVELING!

Yes – I’m taking my own advice and getting outta Dodge.

And unlike so many of you who write lovely posts and share your beautiful travel photos while you’re on the road, AGMA will not be sharing anything while I’m gone.

Nothing personal.

It’s just that I’ve left on many a trip with the best of intentions of posting while on the road only to go into stealth mode on WP for 2 weeks.

Posting while AGMA’s traveling is about as realistic for me as taking my running gear so I can get some runs in while I’m gone.

Ain’t.Gonna.Happen.

My travel days normally start early and are usually so full and busy that I fall into bed each night exhausted by 9 PM.

Nothing says “Party Girl” like (in the summer) going to bed while it’s still light out…

AGMA will be making another appearance on the Emerald Isle to cavort with leprechauns and fairies!  And maybe visit a few pubs.

Maybe.

This time I’m going with a friend.  Hubs is staying home with the “boyz” (Gus and Max, our cats.).

He might be getting the long straw.

The friend I’m going with, M, is the same friend I went to Spain, Portugal and on a Mediterranean cruise in early 2018.  The one who got ill twice this 14 day trip.  And was kinda nasty with me when AGMA suggested she see a doctor after she spent 72 hours in bed while we were on the cruise.  I thought it was a sensible suggestion.

The good news is that she recovered in time to have a wonderful time in Portugal. For 3 days.

She’s also prone to tripping and hitting her face/head.  The first time I met her was on a trip to Croatia, and she had a black eye.  She had fallen a few days before on the island of Hvar.  She has fallen several times since then on trips (more black eyes.)   The last fall was last Fall, and caused her to stay on Mykonos (and miss Santorini) to recover from a slight concussion.

She is also really bad about drinking water while traveling and has fainted twice because of dehydration.  This past January when we were in Mexico together, she was once again feeling very lightheaded.  She hadn’t had any water since the day before.  Once she had a big glass of water, she felt much better.  Oh my.

And she is a retired nurse.

Say a prayer for AGMA and M!

As an FYI, I booked this trip through Great Value Vacations.  It’s one of those package deals – it includes air, hotels and rental car (upgraded for more $$ to an automatic and we paid the extra $$ for CDW).  We set our own itinerary between/in hotel cities.

And yes…we are renting a car.  AGMA will be driving on the left side of the road while I’m sitting in the “wrong” side the car holding a steering wheel on the “wrong” side of the car for 8 days.  OMG.

Say a prayer for the good people of the Republic of Ireland!

See everybody in a couple of weeks.

Ya’ll behave!

Let stealth mode begin and the Guinness flow…

P.S.  Just for the record, Great Value Vacations has pretty mediocre customer service.  As I mentioned in a previous post, when you call them, you stay on hold for for 30 to 40 minutes before somebody picks up.  Also, when you contact them via their contact form, it takes them a week to get back to you.  This does not make AGMA happy.

 

 

 

 

It was a rough landing

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AGMA’s back!

So I got home from Rome last Wednesday.  By the time I went to sleep that night, I had been up for more than 24 hours straight minus about a 15 minute nap on the Rome to London flight.

Ugh.

I tried really, really hard to sleep on the plane from London to Atlanta, but no dice.  I just can’t sleep on those trans-anyoceanic flights.  I hate that.

Back home, you’d think I’d have slept like a rock that first night back in my own little cozy beddy-bye, totally tuckered out from a busy, long day of travel, right?  Nah baby nah.  It took like two hours to fall asleep.

The cumulative effects of too many cappuccinos that past week perhaps?

I awakened rather urgently at 2:30 AM to (how can I put this delicately…) visit the bathroom not only for #1.  I mean, who does THAT in the middle of the night?  Normally, when I get home from one of these trips,  I need to down a couple of boxes of prunes…oh, excuse me…dried plums, to get myself back in action.

And you can’t just stumble into the bathroom in the dark for #2. The lights have to go on and clean-up is infinitely more involved.  OMG TMI.  I was wide awake when I went back to bed.  My husband was sleeping like a baby.

Sometimes I can’t stand that man.

I managed to get back into a fitful sleep at best.  Asleep, awake, asleep, awake…for the next four hours with some very strange dreams sprinkled in.  Something about a friend working in a balcony of St. Peters Basilica overlooking the huge alter canopy by Bernini running sausages and chunks of ham through a vacuum sealer machine to sell for a funder raiser for the Vatican.  I’m glad Freud is dead.

Thursday morning, I had a sore throat.  Great.  Can it get any better? Jet lagged, sleep deprived and now sick.

And less than 48 hours before a 23 mile training run.  Yeah – you heard me.  23 miles.  My very first 23 mile run.  Possibly the timing of my trip could have been a little bit better.

The only thing good about this whole situation was that I didn’t need to go out to buy some prunes…eh…dried plums at all.   Things just kept on moving.  Gotta look at the positives.  Lemonade outta lemons and all that.  Weird, totally inappropriate analogy…

Anyway, I threw everything I had in my homeopathic and herbal cold remedy medicine chest at this nasty little cold virus plus drank gallons of water.  I even neti potted three times a day.

Yuck.

Then I got up at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning, donned my running regalia and met my group (all 5 of us) for our run.  At mile three I was feeling puny and pretty sure I would only last for another six or seven miles.  Miraculously, with the help of my friends, I kept on going.  It’s totally amazing how much more you can accomplish with the encouragement of a group than if you tried to do it by yourself.

And I did it.  Very slowly, but I did it.  And lived to tell the tale.

Most distance runners are actually crazy people who, on the surface, seem like normal people.  See the picture above.  It’s so true.  As I told my friend Jodi over at Life In Between, there’s a diagnosis for me somewhere out there.

I promise my next post will be about my trip.  Rome was wonderful! The history, the art, the churches, the food, the wine, the people – all amazing and astounding.  A thousand plus topics to blog about.

I think I’ll write about Roman toilets and the unnatural lack of toilet seats.

Naturally.

I’m glad to be back!

I’m Still Jet Lagged So I Can’t Think of a Catchy Title

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We just got back on Sunday from a 12 day trip to Belgium and France.  I missed y’all and AGMA!

But it was fun.  Lots of fun.  Beautiful cities, great Belgian beer, WWI and WWII history, great Belgian beer, wonderful food, great Belgian beer, the amazing Mont St. Michel, great Belgian beer.   Brilliant!

I may have mentioned this before – I love to travel.

The travel bug bit me back in the day when, if you were a student, travel was cheap.  Like ridiculously cheap.  When you could fly “student stand-by” for practically nothing.  Remember the classic book Europe on $5 a Day?  As Archie and Edith sang, “Those were the days…”  Sigh.

I took my first international trip in 1972 when I was 18.  We flew from Dallas, Texas to Athens, Greece with a stop in Bangor, Maine and Shannon, Ireland to refuel.  Yeah – the plane had to refuel twice.  At least it didn’t have propellers…or did it?

I was hooked.

In 1976, I did the semi-obligatory post-college trip to Europe.   An organization called “The International Student Exchange” advertised a fabulous eight week tour of Europe by posting flyers seemingly all over every college campus in the US.  A lot of us took the bait.  It was run by a man called “Uncle Roland”.  Kinda creepy.

This operation was intense.  Every week for probably a month – mid May to mid June – a charter took off from New York to London. Everybody on every plane was between the ages of 18 and 22.  Yes – the inmates were in charge of the asylum…

Each planeload was divided into five groups.  After the first night in London, group #1 left on the “official tour”.  Then the next day group #2 would leave.  Yada, yada, yada until all five groups had left London.

My group was J-10 because we left London on June 10th.  Clever… So we did and saw everything that group J-9 did, but a day later.     J-11 was a day behind us.  J-12 was two days behind us.  If it’s Tuesday, where the hell are we?

Each group had it’s own bus that met them in Calais after the Channel crossing.  Our bus driver was Robert.  He couldn’t speak English and may have been a dirty old man – he was probably all of 35 – but this man had the patience of a saint.  Our guide for the eight weeks was a 24 year old man from Austria named Eric.  He was only two years older than me.  Again, an inmate was in charge…

So there we were – 36 hormone super-charged, ADHD, mixed gender late teen/early 20-somethings craving excitement and adventure, all crammed on a bus for eight weeks driving through 11 countries in Europe where attitudes about alcohol, drugs and sex are way different than the US.  Whatever you imagination can conjure up, it probably happened.  Yeah – that too.

Naturally, by the end of the eight weeks, we basically couldn’t stand the sight of each other.  Some people hated each other.  And nobody liked the girl who decided not to use the toilet and used the back of the bus instead.  Especially Robert.  Plus everybody stunk a little…

A few years ago, I found the flyer for the trip that my pack rat alter ego saved for all these years.  It advertised “Come join us for eight happy weeks in Europe!”  Okay – I’ll give them six happy weeks and two pretty crappy ones.  But 38 years later, I remember it like it was yesterday.  Good times.

Total cost in 1976 for 11 countries, 17 cities, hotels, breakfast, most dinners, tours in each city plus lots and lots of special extra events – $1195.00.  Sigh.

“Those were the days….”

The Eternal Optimist

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The phrase “sleeping on an international flight” is an oxymoron.  Like honest politician.  There’s no such thing.  At least for me.

Let me start by saying, I know that I’m extremely fortunate.  I’ve been able to travel across the Atlantic 16 times in the past 12 years for vacations.  Awesome!  But the sum total of sleep I’ve had in the air on all those trips is around 35 hours.  Total.  Not only do I look nasty and smell “fragrant” when I get to my final destination, but I’m cranky.  Because I’m tired.  Sometimes really cranky.  My husband will vouch for this.

Most international flights leave at night and get you to your destination early in the morning.  I don’t like this.  I want to leave at noon so I don’t have to be wide awake all by myself.  My husband sometimes falls asleep before the plane takes off.  Bastard.

International flights are the last remaining habitat of that almost extinct species – free airplane food.  They feed everybody dinner about an hour after reaching the mystical, magical “cruising altitude”.  Like sometimes at 11 PM.  The airlines are wiley in this…  They know that, like cats, airline passengers will sleep when their tummies are full.  The cabin lights dim.  All gets quiet.  That’s when I start my own version of “Walking Dead”.

So now it’s midnight and I’ve been up since 5 AM the previous morning doing the stuff that you have to do before you go away for 2 weeks.  I’m tired – damned tired.  Like Sally Bowles in Cabaret, I think “Maybe this time….”    I walk up and down the dark aisles, lit dimly by the light of an occasional video screen.  And I see a sea of people before me, representing all nationalities, races, religions – blissfully snoozing.  A beautiful cross section of humanity.  But at the moment, I hate them all.  I’m wide awake.

Working against me is that my territory for sleeping is a seat designed more for folks from the Lolllipop League.  In the good old days before the bust, you could sometimes snag a whole row of middle seats and pretend you were in first class by actually lying down.  Usually with the folded up arm rests prodding and poking sensitive areas.  But you could actually almost stretch out and get parallel to the ground.  Or water.  This occasionally worked for me.. I would sleep for a couple of hours   But empty rows don’t happen anymore.  I’ve had to lower my expectations.  Now, one empty seat next to me will wash waves of excitement over me.

I’ve tried over the counter sleeping aids, pharma sleeping aids, health food store sleeping aids, drinking electrolytes and massive amounts of water (too many trips to the loo…), counting sheep, meditation, listening to calming music, pre-trip sleep deprivation, compression socks, soft jammies and most combinations of the above.  You get the picture.  I’m a mess on long flights.

So I now just accept that I am gong to feel like crap for the the first couple of days of an international trip.  And not whine about it.  At least, not much.  I think I’ve said before, I’m a slow learner…  I’ve decided that it’s totally worth 18 to 24 hours of no sleep to be able to see and hear and taste amazing things, meet amazing people, do amazing things.

But like a Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, hope springs eternal.

Maybe next time!