Flight etiquette

It can be the largest game of Russian roulette as you walk down a planes narrow aisle looking at all the people you don’t want to sit next to for eight hours.  Judging all the faces as you get nearer to your seat. I don’t want the mother and the young kid,  I really don’t want to sit next to that large man that has the middle seat, oh no please not the kid playing music so loud everyone can hear. No not him he is fighting on his phone pre-flight. There are snap judgments that we all make on people for the behaviors or actions. A lot of these things are happening to unknowingly passengers. I want to help anyone who thinks that their seat has a bubble around them and no one can smell your feet. There is simple flight etiquette I would recommend everyone to follow.

  • Food
Why wouldn’t I want to bring food from home for a long flight you might ask.  Why would I want to pay for overpriced snacks in the maze of the store the airport snakes you though on your way to your gate. Every few paces there is another restaurant or food stalls set up to lighten your wallet. There may be a few times to choose airport food. AT the type of places that have pre-packaged items such as sandwiches, salads, and bowls or restaurants for a hot burger to go. All of which don’t have an overwhelming odor and are relatively not messy. If you don’t mind dropping some extra money for ready to walk on board with a decent meal. There are deals if you look hard, sometimes. Look for where the crew eats at, they work there every day and know where the best deal is. Sometimes a full day of flying with tight layovers all you can do is buy and fly. You know you get a little envious when you see that mother three rows up with the young child break out multiple bags filled with cookies and crackers. Bringing snacks seems to get left with childhood but is a great cost-effective way to eat until you arrive at your destination. Cookies, crackers, beef jerky, and candy and my favorites to stash in my pack. Avoid eggs, garlic, onions, and other strong odors. There is no amount of mints that truly get rid of garlic breath. Annoying loud crunchy chips are also on my foods to avoid list.
  • In-flight meals & snacks
If you are getting a free meal on a flight, consider yourself lucky with all the budget cuts in the airline industry. On a meal service on a long flight, there are usually two options to choose from and possibly a kosher meal. Depending on how full the flight is, you may not get a choice at all. If you plan ahead there are special dietary meal option through most airlines. When the whole flight is eating the same thing it doesn’t matter if it has a weird smell. When I was taking a short flight from Hong Kong we all received a hotdog in a roll in a paper bag with a small container of water. I could smell the snack being handed out long before I could see it. I was still very thankful for this free snack on a travel day and devoured it.The same goes with meal service on the flight it may have an odor but the while flight is evolved so no one will notice. How your food is eaten is another topic. Although eating on a plane is not a fine dining experience, please don’t leave your manners on the ground. Be aware of how you are eating and what it sounds like. It makes for a long flight when Mr. Middle seat is slurping his food or audibly drinking. For the love of everything, please do not burp or fart in the main cabin. Try to save those gems for the lavatory.
  • Dressing & Undressing
Please keep your clothes on. There I said it. If you are flying a few hours leave your shoes on, besides jackets and cold weather gear, there is no reason to start shedding your clothes. On long flights, you will have a small packet of goodies from some airlines. When you open the in-flight toiletries bag, you may have toothpaste, toothbrush, earphones, and socks. On long flights, you can take off your shoes but make sure you put your sweaty feet in the socks the airline provides. It is never ok to walk to the lavatory in bar feet, that may not be water on the floor. If your shoes are terribly smelly then maybe you should suffer and keep your shoes on the rest of the flight instead of making the passengers around you suffer.
  • It is NEVER ok

If you have to ask yourself if it’s ok to do something on a flight, then it most likely isn’t. Never put your feet between the seats in front of you if there is anyone in those seats or not. Don’t even think about painting your nails in an enclosed airplane. Tweezing is gross when you are in public, don’t try on a flight.  Where are you going to put the hairs you remove? There is a toilet on board and before you say it; I know there is always a line when the cabin lights are turned on after a long flight. Everyone wants to get cleaned up and ready for their arrival. Please be patient, ad wait for your turn to do the five minute clean up in the lavatory. You would think something as innocent as brushing your hair could cause some dirty looks. What you may not notice is little pieces of your hair are now floating around the cabin. Never ever spray cologne, perfume or other types of smelly sprays until you are off the flight. What may smell amazing to you could start a full-blown asthma attack on the passengers around you.

  • Boarding and Disembarking
We all know the drill when boarding an airplane. Disabled individuals, parents with small children and active military usually get to board first. Then comes the fancy perk members with all the points and miles or peoples who pay extra for early boarding. Then comes the common folk. At things point in the boarding process, everyone is already crowded around the gate waiting to rush over to the already formed line to enter the jetway. When your group is finally called and you start the slow one-two step onto the flight remember a few things as you look for your seat. Mind your bags. If you have a backpack, keep the straps on both shoulders until you are ready to take not off. I have been hit and also have hit others in the head with my bag walking down the aisle. Purses also should be kept under control for the same reason. If you need help placing your overweight carry on suitcase in the overhead compartment then please ask for help. Getting hit by a suitcase is much worse than a book bag or purse. I know you are trying to save money and overpacked a carry on but dropping a suitcase can potentially take out a row of passengers. The only thing that would make this worse is your seat is right next to the row of angry and bruised travelers you just accidentally assault. Take your time and don’t rush the person in front of you. Disembarking the same rules apply.  Everyone wants to exit as fast as possible but there is no reason to stand so close that I can feel your breath in my hair. Personal space is important, especially after a long and full flight.I wait until there is almost no line at all at the ticket counter before I even get out of my seat. I have never seen a good reason to stand in a mob waiting for the next group to be called, just to add to the already long sluggish moving line. I will wait even if my group has already lined up. I know the flight isn’t going anywhere, I know I have a seat assigned, and I am not missing out on anything by waiting to board nearly last. The airline does not, however, have to wait until every passenger is on. They will leave you at the airport bar or the duty-free shops fifteen minutes before take-off time. Flights are also allowed to leave ten minutes if everyone around the gate has board.Be kind to those around you. You never know who you are sharing a row with. You may sit next to the best single-serving friendship and the most amazing conversation, but don’t break the unwritten rules of flying. There will be private time soon enough when you are off the aircraft, so please be sensible

The art of coffee in New Zealand

Although there are Starbucks close to everywhere New Zealand does coffee slower and much better. Like a lot of things in the country, Kiwis take pride in their coffee making. There are a few distinct differences when ordering coffee in New Zealand (and Australia). The two big differences are the flat white and the tall black. There are many other types of coffee available when you walk up the the counter. The barrister takes pride in the art of coffee in New Zealand. Every coffee is started with fresh roasted grounds perfectly pressed into an espresso machine. Drip coffee pots are very hard to find.  If you enjoy coffee then drinking four hour old coffee may not be your idea of a good coffee. Every coffee is made to order and is worth the wait and the line to get your morning coffee. It is not only in coffee shops and restaurants that this bean art is taken so seriously, gas station also follow suit with a coffee bar with someone there to make it. There is no stale coffee in pots or urns. So you better know what you want as you walk up and dont just say “I want a large coffee” because you will get a strange look. Most coffee is espresso based in many varieties.  You can get a large, not so strong cup of coffee called the Americano which is a espresso diluted with water. Short black, long black, short macchiato, americano, long macchiato, flat white, latte, cappuccino, mochaccino, piccolo, affogato, and vienna are all common espresso drinks you can find and should try. But the drink of the Kiwis is the flat white and its easy to see why. The flat white is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk with mineral foam. It is still up for debate where this drink originated from . Both Australia and New Zealand both lay claim to starting this drink. It is a common and heated topic at times because both countries are very passionate about the coffee art.

  • Flat white• starts with a double espresso with steamed milk and foam. The difference between a flat white and an
  • Tall black • no milk, no sugar just great coffee, and strong

Coffee art is very trendy lately and New Zealand is no stranger to the beautiful creations made atop your coffee. As see above my cup of flat white has a little bird and a fern, a symbol of the country. The barista make it look so effortless as they dump the steaming coffee and creamy foam into a mug. But the most important this is the taste. The flat white is where the pride and the art comes in. It is much harder to make a pretty picture on top of a tall black. If you love coffee then try the local favorite of the area you are in. Go out of your comfort zone and try new things, you may never go back to drip coffee again.

Manly Island

Going to manly Island on the Ferry is a slow peaceful way to some other parts of Sydney and great photo ops on the way of the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. There are sailboats scattered all along the waterways and speedboats zipping by.

Getting off the ferry I was surrounded by small tourist shops selling food and beachwear. The boardwalk leads right out from the shops to the long stretch of golden sand beaches. Manly Island is a great Sydney surf spot and on a sunny day, there is competition for the good sets of waves. When I walked down the path along the beach there were two beach volleyball courts set up with bleaches on the beach for events. At the end of the path are an ocean pool and a health center with an amazing view.

The pink dolphins of Hong Kong

Away in an old fishing village, there are regular tours of something I have never heard of before, pink dolphins. More commonly called the Chinese White Dolphin but affectionately called pink dolphins for this unusual pink and white-colored dots making themselves stand out against the dark water. I found this tour in Tai O village, a once-thriving fishing community, now being overshadowed by a giant bridge connecting the Hong Kong cities of Zhuhai and Macau. It is the longest sea-crossing bridge spanning the Pearl River Delta. Tai O has been an attraction to see the local fishing culture and to catch a glimpse of the pink dolphins, but now the village has an added feature on the boat tour, to see the new record-breaking bridge. The bridge construction has been a threat to the rare pink creatures. Marine experts say the dolphins feeding and communication activities of these very social animals have been distributed. Hopefully, now that the construction is about over and the bridge is waiting for its grand opening the sea life will be left alone.

The Dolphins start their lives as dark calves until they grow into the famous pink spots. The pink spots are from blood vessels beneath the skin of the dolphins. There isn’t a great deal known about these pink dolphins of Hong Kong but the numbers don’t lie. The animals in the Pearl River Delta areas have seen numbers drop by eighty percent over the past decade.

Try as you may, but you will not find any pink dolphins in my photos. Like many others on the boat, I was never ready when these creatures would jump up to say hello. After many missed shots, I simply sat back in the first of the boat and watched pointed pink heads pop up and splash away just as quick. It was a calm end to a busy Hong Kong day.

Oktoberfest!

Welcome to the beer fest of all beer fests!

Oktoberfest in Munich Germany puts on a grand show every year for almost 7 million people starting at the end of September. But before you can drink a pint of beer there is much planning, prep, and building that must go on with a team of highly skilled teams create a new vision each year. There are 700 vendors ready to set up for the weeks of madness ahead. The area of the event is already a construction site by July and doesn’t stop for ten weeks. The first thing that comes to mind is the giant beer tents. There are 14 major tents and 15 minor tents. In the biggest tents, there can be upward of 8,000 festival-goers. The tents are made of all wood grounded to concrete that is poured every year. For the management, this is a full-time job planning and pulling off this annual party. Several thousand people come together to wrap up the project in the few weeks of construction. Tear down is about half the time of set up running around five weeks. Most parts are stored in storage containers and delivered to the storehouses in Munich

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I planned my visit for the opening day. It was a calm morning when I arrived with my mother and took a stroll down the main road of beer tents standing tall. By the time we doubled back, the roads were filling with beer drinkers waiting for the day to get started. We picked the Hippodrome tent and sat and had a bite to eat and noticed that most tables were reserved. We quickly learned that there is an opening parade and each owner comes into their tent and taps the first barrel and the beer drinking does not stop for a few weeks after. From the beautiful windows, I watched the parade roll by with barrels of beer and horse-drawn carriage and everyone was dressed for the occasion. There is such a buzz for the town for the opening day, Like the city of Munich has been waiting to unwrap its gift for months, watching the structures go up for months in town.

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My favorite photo of my mother joining me October Fest in 2013

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Yes, this is a blurry picture but they move so fast with all that beer! This was the best I could get an even more beer was rushing by, being gripped tightly by fingertips.

My advice is to get here early to get a seat or wait for the short lines of smaller tents. I definitely would recommend going to multiple tents for different environments in each one. If you have a larger group it pays to plan ahead of time and reserve a table in a tent of your choice. All of Munich books up for this beer event, so planning ahead helps get more of what you are looking for before it’s booked up. My last bit of wisdom is if you drink a few too many pints, there is a nice grassy hill to rest your eyes until the next round. It’s all a very happy party and the locals are waiting to welcome you in. Do your country proud, don’t make a drunken fool of yourself. We have all seen this too many times. Safe travels and smart drinking!

Windy Wellington

The Capital of New Zealand and tucked away at the bottom of the north island and is the gateway to the south island. The ferry across the Cook Straight runs from Picton to Wellington three or four times a day through two different companies, Interisland and Bluebird. But we didn’t come here just to leave. There are things to do and see in Wellington! The first place I feel most people are drawn to is the downtown waterfront area. The length of the water has shops, restaurants, and some museums lined up ready for the next batch of visitors. The weekend is the big draw for the waterfront, farmers markets and rummage sales going on every Saturday. Sunday has different events and activities going on all year. When I was there one Sunday morning there was a relay for life race going on. Being the capital city center you can count on various functions.

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The streets are narrow and are filled with endless shops of all kinds. Wellington is a busy city but a friendly one. Like most of New Zealand, their citizens try to look out for one another and give the benefit of the doubt. Wellington is a great city for a pedestrian. I never took a cab or bus while in the capital city. There is wide sidewalk twisting with every street even in the midst of road construction. There are so many fascinating places I passed on my many hours of getting to know this city I definitely didn’t have enough time to stop at them all.

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The best view and my favorite part of the windy capital city is the cable car that lifts to the top of the city. There are signs on the streets to direct you towards the ticket and the bottom of the cable car. Every ten minutes the car runs for a small fee and you will have two options. You can pay for a return ticket down or get a oneway ticket and walk back down to the city. You must take a oneway ticket and wonder the way back down. There are multiple paths to follow heading down and there are even maps available along the way. Lush green landscapes and manicured yards give way to a stunning rose garden. The rose garden was in full bloom on that warm day I found myself at the edge of row after colorful row. Not only roses but the exotic flowers from a place a half a world away from my own home. So it was all new and unique to me. The rose garden is The Lady Norwood Rosegarden and has The Wellington Botanic Garden just up the hill.

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Melbourne, Australia Chinatown vibes

The Chinatown in Melbourne Australia in the central business district and is home to places of business, worships, and restaurants for the home of the longest continuous Chinese settlement. The Chinese originally came for the Australian gold rush and stayed for a new life. This small section of Melbourne is home to the Chinese’s New Year festival which lasts for a few weeks every year with fireworks and the waking of the dragon.

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Many people just pass by  Little Bourke Street on their hustle of the madness of the downtown. I can not say enough how amazing getting away from the droves of people can be. The hidden discovers to be found. Chinatown is missed often because there is so much to do in Melbourne. You can walk down the gate that is the start of Chinatown and see many different Asian restaurants and shops.  Chinatown has grown from one block with a gate on each end to now have grown to multiple blocks over the past few years. I learned that in American Chinatowns, there are mostly Cantonese settled there. In Melbourne, there is a much more diverse Chinatown represented. Why is that good for you? Many more types of food to try and more mixing of cultures.

When you make it to the busy area of CBD of Melbourne make sure you take time out to walk the few blocks of Chinatown. Even if it is just to see the beautiful buildings and for the free smells.

A first look at Melbourne Australia

Reichstag 

Walking up to this large front lawn of the Reichstag on a nice day makes me want to sit and have an afternoon lunch. There is no time for this in Berlin there is just too much amazing things to see. The Reichstag building is a parliament building and has strict guidelines to get in the door. Registration is free to enter but you must register before you enter. Be sure you bring your passport. I never tell anyone to go wandering around the city with their passport on then, but every rule has its exception. The dome and the roof terrace have different times for the terrace and dome. The Reichstag is also closed for maintenance and holidays throughout the year, so be sure to check opening times and dates when planning your visit. I did not pre-register before going to the Reichstag. I did wait in a long that moved pretty quickly, bringing in a small group of people in to check passports with faces before we were allowed up to the elevators to the dome and terrace.

Walking into the beautiful glass and mirror dome that spirals up to the observation deck overlooking Berlin. The dome is 23 meters high and 40 meters wide and designed by Sir Norman Foster. Foster originally planned an air cushion-like flat roof and only under political pressure planned a dome. There are guided tours available and a wealth of knowledge and fascinating facts that are hidden in the Reichstag. One such fact not largely known is that there are still Cyrillic graffiti left by Soviet soldiers after the siege in 1945. It has been carefully preserved and can still be seen by visitors today. There is also a bullet hole from the Second World War.

The Brandenburg Gate is a short walk away. The city is very well laid out from The Reichstag building. The Holocaust memorial isn’t too much further than the Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island is further past that. I don’t recommend trying to push yourself and see it all in one day. There is so much to see in this city, so plan for full days of exploring no matter how long you are in Berlin.

Reichstag is a must if it is the first of the fiftieth time you are coming here. Just the walk up to the top is a piece of living art to the view of this unique city. I can’t get enough Berlin.

There is a restaurant on the terrace serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations are required for dining here and the menu is on the pricey side, but the views are free. The hardest part about visiting Reichstag is deciding whether to visit in the daytime or at night.

Budapest

An old world feel from the moment you get off at Keleti Train Station. There is much history under the layers of dirt from time and neglect. Please don’t let my negative comments sway you from seeing this great and old city. After you make your way out of the sketchy train station and wander around you will see a beautiful city with many secrets.

This man was waiting to greet me at the corner with his belly wore from rubs. I feel like I could outrun him.

On one of my stops from the subway, I walked up steps to a festival in full swing with dancing, fresh food cooking, and music. I spent a few hours deciding on what I wanted for lunch and watched the street performers.

Wandering around I found local treats and homemade crafts that I recognized from my Hungarian grandmother’s house. The same red pattern of tablecloths and napkins brought back great memories of family dinners of the same food I was seeking in the city. This is a big reason I travel, its to reconnect with your past if only by a pattern or a smell.

 

There are so many grand stone building with complex curly ends and detailed columns, don’t forget to look up.

Florence

The colors in Florence is one of my favorite things about this city.

Incredible detail from floor to breathtaking ceiling.

After a long warm afternoon, I treated myself to a nice pasta dinner. It was so delicious that in my haste I forgot to take a photo. I did, however, get a photo of my amazing custard with a blackberry sauce.