Jet Lagged Fun in Koblenz

Lufthansa air was a class act. Also my seat mate and one of the stewards helped us practice our German. I didn’t manage to sleep on the plane, but despite that, we managed to successfully use the ticket machine and get the first train to Koblenz. It literally arrived as we walked to the platform.

Me looking silly on flight

Using the rail ticket machine. Google pay didn’t work there.

The rail machine had flags representing about 8 different languages so we really didn’t have to use the German screens but we did anyway.

One complication: the departure board didn’t show Koblenz. Fortunately, Google navigate did and with Google fi coverage we were able to find the correct train at the correct platform, and more importantly, get off at the correct station. On the train ride, it was still dark, as our plane arrived at 5 am, so we were able to see the Christmas lights in passing towns and reflected on the Rhein river.

It was still dark when we arrived in Koblenz but we bumbled our way to our lovely hotel, Hotel Brenner. This lovely family owned hotel showed us the best of European hospitality. If we had shown up early to an American hotel, they would check our bags and tell us to come back much later. Instead, this hotel graciously rushed to get our room cleaned, and allowed us to check in early.

After out tight quarters in Boston, we were thrilled to have this lovely, large room. The beds had little packets of Haribo gummy bear candies on them. I swore I was not going to sleep but I took a nap. Later, the manager offered us an even larger room since we were going to be here so long, but we said we were happy with this one.

A cute little dressing table and coffee service
The shower room. There’s a separate toilet room.
View from our room

After my nap, we went for a walk. It had rained earlier but was warm and cloudy this afternoon. Very pleasant. A pedestrian/bike underpass had these cute murals.

The Rhein
Fortress at Ehrenbreitstein
Schloss Koblenz (Koblenz castle)
The Rhein river area in Koblenz is a UNESCO site
Preussisches Regierunggebaude (Prussian Government building)
Cute restaurants and apartments with Riverside views
Cable cars only run on weekends off season
Cable car trestle
Doggy bag station
Beautiful out of season blooming tree
The Viking ship we saw was much bigger than I had imagined. It looked like the cabins had great views.
A strange lion image at the Ecke

Koblenz Eck with statue of Wilhem I.

Pieces of Berlin Wall
Deutche Kaiser, our restaurant for the afternoon.
The local beer, Koblenzer, is quite good
Ray had schnitzel with mushrooms
I had a vegetarian dish with apples, potatoes, and greens

We did quite a bit more but jet lag is claiming me again so I’ll tell you about zinterclaus tomorrow.

Final Boston thoughts

We had a great time but are now heading on to Germany. This is the Lufthansa gate, blessedly heavy with charging ports. I picked up some euros at the exchange here. Always good to have a few when we hit the ground.

We took the train/shuttle to the airport. A whole $5 for both of us and very easy. The transit ambassadors at main stations are extremely helpful.

One thing I found especially pretty in Boston was all the churches. I understand they have some beautiful synagogues and mosques as well. So here are some pics of a few that I walked by.

Happy holidays to all.

Off the Beaten Track in Boston

Almost anytime someone goes to Boston, they do the same things. And those are great things: the Freedom Trail, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the JFK library. There are good reasons that these are popular Boston activities and if you haven’t already done them, I highly recommend them. But, if you’ve been to Boston before and are looking for some fun, different activities, here are some to try.

For a different breakfast experience, we went to Clover, a plant based restaurant. Their cranberry, apple, maple oatmeal is awesome, as is their hibiscus iced tea. Ray also liked his veggie sandwich and coffee.

For a free museum that’s slightly on the geeky side, go to Massachusetts General Hospital. Their Museum of Medical History and Innovation will make you extremely grateful to be living in modern times. Here are a few highlights.

Many displays highlighted WWI medicine, like these sleeping bags used by WWI nurses.
A traveling pharmacy from when physicians made house calls.
Diagnosis has improved dramatically thanks to new tools.

One of my favorite exhibits (not shown, sorry) allows one to try and diagnose three patients using results from modern screening tests.

A sample trunk filled with a nursing jacket and bonnet. Considering what those WWI nurses endured, they deserved more serious hats than these little pill boxes.

Surgical tools from the 1800s. They would not have been this clean, either. The relationship between sterile surgery and survival had not yet been established.

Another fun but unexpected destination is the main library. The library has two buildings, the McKim building, a classical building with notable murals, including some by John Singer Sargeant.

The newer building, the Johnson building, is thoroughly modern, and boasts the latest in library services innovations for Boston residents.

Exterior of the old library building

A fun photo opportunity to take a pic of my son and his wife

Walking back, we were able to enjoy the Christmas lights in the Commons.

The Cartier cat is actually across from the commons but too cool to omit!

Finally, make a quick visit to see the adorable burro statue in front of the old city hall (now Ruth Chris). Believe it or not, placing this staue here was controversial as it was Italian and had nothing to do with the American Revolution to justify it being on the Freedom Trail. But finally, it found its place there, delighting all the children who visit. The bright spots on the statue testify to the many children who have petted the little burro.

Sweet Misnamed Treat

What would a stay at the Omni Parker House be like without trying their famous Parker House Boston cream pie? So we tried it! By the way, don’t get your taste buds set for a pie; that is definitely a misnomer. This is a fluffy light sponge cake filled with a thin layer of a light custard rather than the heavy custard associated with eclairs and donuts. There is also no crust, but there is a lovely chocolate topping.

For those who are interested in savoring this treat without traveling to Boston, you can have a 10-12 serving pie/cake shipped to you through Goldbelly for $89. We can verify that these are the original Boston cream pie from the Parker house as we saw crates of them being loaded onto a truck outside the restaurant. Hotel staff also confirmed that Goldbelly only uses their pies.

Sweet Doggy Story

Have you ever wondered what happens to seeing eye dogs when they have to retire?

We met a sweet retired seeing eye dog in the park near our Boston hotel so we discovered the answer. The puppy breeder gets first dibs on adopting the retired dog. Many breeders do adopt retired dogs as it’s hard not to get attached in the 14 to 28 months before the dogs start training. And of course, these dogs are exceptionally well trained so they make great pets.

I got to pet Maxie but only after giving her the signal that it was ok to come over. What a wonderful dog!

If you’re interested in adopting a retired guide dog or a dog that couldn’t complete the grueling training (but would still make a great pet), you can apply here.

Boston History and Fun

Breakfast was good but limited seating.
The park was lovely and peaceful
A one man band entertained the kids
Frogs outside the tadpole play area
Ray and I being silly
The tadpole playground
Massachusetts state house
Park Street church
Cathedral church of St Paul

Bike rentals
Solar powered pay station for bike rentals
Historic map in sidewalk
Freedom trail signs are everywhere
There was a big flash mob in front of Fanueil hall marketplace
Time for lunch
This place is popular!
Ray is contemplating the menu
Yum!
Ray’s yummy lunch
At the fresh air market
Oyster shucking is hard work
Lots of great produce. Blueberries are 2 boxes for $1!!
This sounds tasty
Quincy market
Loved some of the fun signs inside Quincy market
I wasn’t hungry but. . .
Cool decorations
Christmas in Boston
Cheers bar Christmas decorations
Map for the freedom trail

A little sticker shock. Glad we don’t have a car here
Old Courthouse

Wasn’t this a fun walking tour of Boston? It’s one of my favorite cities, especially since the food is amazing.

Classy Pens

Since we were in Boston, we had to visit Bromfield pens. Despite my taking lots of pics and not buying anything (tight luggage constraints as we’re still heading to Germany), the staff was delightful and kind.

The cases were filled with delectable pen goodies. Here are a few samples.

I definitely recommend a visit the next time you’re in Boston. And unlike me, leave room in your suitcase for pen goodies.

No taxis needed for Boston

Boston has a wonderful metro system so if you’re heading to downtown from the airport, and want to save big bucks, take the metro. There are shuttles for the blue line (shuttle number 22), the red line, and the silver line. The red line shuttle was free. I suspect the others are too. Although the #22 shuttle was only labeled on the outside as the bus for other terminals and rental cars, it definitely stopped at the airport metro station–before going to the rental car sites. At the metro, it cost us a whole $5.50 for two of us to get within a couple of blocks of our hotel.

One caveat. If you buy 2 tickets together at the machine, it’ll spit out a receipt and one pass. Both people need to use the single pass to go through the turnstile. The receipt is only for your records.

At your subway stop, let Google maps take over.

If you can’t walk a few blocks or have heavy luggage, Lyft is another affordable option. Reddit users claim it’s much more affordable than taxis.

But if you are able to walk a few blocks, the Boston metro can get you anyplace you might want to go in Boston, affordably and quickly.

By the way, Boston, including our hotel, is all dressed up for the holidays. And the Omni Parker House is the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie and Parker House rolls. Want to try them?

By the way, if you’re planning an Omni hotel stay, sign up for Omni select so you don’t get charged a big (about $10/day) internet fee.

Project Fi coverage is travel heaven

The Google project fi network makes finding maps for foreign locations, subway train schedules, and other minutia of travel a breeze. Because the network works in 170 countries without additional fees, a happy traveler doesn’t need to search out Wi-Fi hot spots, buy sim cards, or rent a mobile phone to stay connected.

Seriously, if you’re a frequent international traveler, switching to the go network may be the smartest move you could make. Going to Japan and don’t speak Japanese? Google translate and google navigate to the rescue.

While most countries are open to Google, China is the notable exception. Also, a few countries have restricted access to some Google services (YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, Maps). Those countries include: Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria. In those rare cases, you’ll want to use these travel tips.

Also, although the excellent Google pixl phones are the best known equipment that can be used on the project fi network, there are a host of other unlocked phones that work. And right now, Google is offering deals on it’s latest pixl models.

The project fi pricing scheme is great for either heavy data users like me or lighter users like my husband. Plus, the coverage is great. Ray almost always has better coverage with project fi than my t-mobile phone, and t-mobile has good coverage.

So are you ready to make the switch? As we’re anticipating more foreign travel, I’m making the changeover.