We Haven’t Been Everywhere, But It Is On Our List
I was inspired by this title, We haven’t been everywhere but it is on our list, by a fellow runner, Ana. We met her last year on a Marathon Tours adventure in Madagascar. She had posted on facebook the following quote about going someplace you have not been before once a year. I commented on the fact we are seeing someplace new about every month. Every time I think I have been to a lot of places, 70 countries so far in my lifetime, we run into someone that has nearly been everywhere.
Also on that Madagascar trip, we ran into Brent who broke the world record for the number of Marathons run in a different country, with 132. Little known fact there are 196ish countries that have a marathon. I wrote about that trip, called, It never gets old. On this 30 day trip to Europe, we will also run a half marathon in Cyprus and that is someplace we have not been before.
We are presently in Paris and it took us almost two days to get here. We took this route In order for us to get a first class seat to Europe and only pay for economy. Catherine and I get 4 regional and 4 global upgrades each year. You can standby with the highest priority or you can call in and the computer will let you know if the flight you are interested in is available for an immediate upgrade.
Turns out on this trip we had to first go to DTW then on to Paris. That seemed simple enough but not so fast. Our plane had a slight mechanical so we started out behind the eight ball for a 1-hour connection. Since DTW was experiencing a minor snow storm we had to hold and by the time we landed our plane to Paris had already left the gate. The computer had already found us first class seats to MSP and then to Paris the next day.
After a short 30 minute wait in line, we were on the shuttle to the Sheraton Hotel complete with dinner vouchers. Trying again the next day with an hour 15 minutes in MSP we thought we had it made in the shade. Not so fast Kemosahbee, we made it fine but Catherine bag did not. We arrived a day late and a bag short.
This is the fourth time in 3 years our bags have not made the trip on the same route as us and each time it was Catherine’s. The last time it was to Hawaii and she got some nice dresses, etc, compliments of Delta. If you haven’t fallen asleep by now you can read about that adventure called, The trouble is you think you have time.
Their crackpot tracking system showed the bag getting off the plane from DTW to MSP and that is where the trail went cold. Air France at the Charles Degaul airport insisted that the bag was at the airport but since they have a lot of bags it was going to take them awhile to find it. I tried to explain on death, French ears, that the tracking system last reported that the bag was still in MSP.
I am not going to go further right here on the details but we are now on our way to Tel Aviv one bag short. Not to worry since this is not the first rodeo we are replacing items one by one at 50 bucks a day. The Air Chance agent, pet name Europeans have for my least favorite Airline, Air France, advised us since the tickets were bought on my American Express to basically go hog wild with my replacement plan.
This trip is shaping up to be a real doozy. We were all lined up for the flight to TEL when we were informed that our plane had technical issues, ie working a mechanical, and ended up being over an hour late. That was after getting the most extensive body and bag check ever since our tickets said, Israel.
We were here February 2016 for the Tele Aviv half marathon, which you can read all about on my blog called, Why would anyone go to Tele Aviv to run a half marathon. This time the race is in Jerusalem with two of our favorite Marathon Tour coordinators, Karen and Jacqui. We have been on numerous trips with them before, the most memorable being the Amazing Maasi. Once again you can read about that mind-blowing adventure called, We are not on vacation, this is our lifestyle.
This is the inaugural trip for Marathon Tours so they had me at hello. We arrive a day before everyone else and our stay at one my favorite Marriott properties, Renaissance Tel Aviv, for the first two days. The hotel is located right on the Mediterranean Sea with a paved running and biking path right out the back door.
I have been somewhat distracted by trying to find Catherine’s suitcase. Several phone calls a day plus shopping for some must need items. Delta now thinks that the tag came off the bag when it came off the plane from DTW and went to a holding area in MSP. The only problem with proving that theory is that MSP won’t answer the phone from Delta’s delayed bag department or return any of their messages to them.
The first three years I bought insurance for these major trips and after spending 11K and never filling a claim I decided not to continue that practice and in effect became self-insured. Seemed like a good idea at the time but have learned that Delta only pays out 50 bucks a day for the first 5 days and if not found $9.07 per pound per the Geneva convention, max $650 per bag internationally and $3500 for domestic flights.
This is the fourth time in 3 years that Catherine’s bag has not arrived with us. Twice it was a day late and once it was 5 days late in Hawaii. Ironically there are two dresses that were bought in Hawaii that are in this bag now. Back then they paid us around 700 bucks for the replacement items since I thought that bag was never going to show up. I have spent about 1 K so far and if it does not show by the time we get to Amsterdam I will replace all the rest of the items there which should be about another 2K. I truly think it will turn up but I did learn that for 50 bucks per flight you can get excess insurance at the ticket counter up to 5K. It would be no big deal to replace my contents so I will just rack this up at the cost of running all over the world.
Here is the rundown of what we did and saw on our second trip to Israel.
Tuesday, March 6 – TEL AVIV
Marathon Tours hosted a fabulous, Welcome Dinner at the Abrage Restaurant in Yaffo.
Wednesday, March 7 – TEL AVIV | JERUSALEM
We started the day with a guided tour of Tel Aviv, which began in Rabin Square and continued to Old Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world where we visited the ancient ruins and walked along the Artist’s Quarter. The next stop was Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv, built in 1887 and Nahalat Benyamin, the pedestrian mall of the city with a stop at Sheinkin, the lively and colorful street known for its unique shops, café life and youthful ambiance. After lunch and some free time, we made our way to Jerusalem and check-in at the hotel.
Thursday, March 8
We toured the Old City and the New City. We drove to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the city, visited the Tomb of King David and the Room of Last Supper on Mt. Zion. Upon entering the walled city, we visited the Roman Cardo and the famous Western Wall. Next, we walked via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Following the tour, we made our way to the EXPO for our bib and race packet. Immediately following will enjoyed a great pasta buffet dinner, which was organized by the race and was served at the expo venue. At the same time, I had to buy some needed items that were in Catherine’s bag for the race.
Mount of the Olives below
The Wailing Wall
Where the last supper took place below
Friday, March 9
Race day and it was a bit much. We did manage to once again finish hand in hand but was a very tough course and Catherine had to drag me across the finish line. We actually ran into the old city and the course was extremely hilly. You were either going up or down the entire 13.1 miles. My right knee was very unhappy with me on the downhill portions. It was a very organized race and they had 5 different races and since Shabott was that afternoon closing off the roads so traffic was not a problem.
That evening we gathered for a celebration dinner at a local Mediterranean restaurant called the Lavan with amazing views of the Old City and Mount Zion. Turns out we ran right by this place during the race.
Our route on the half marathon
Saturday, March 10 – JERUSALEM | DEAD SEA
We had a full-day excursion to the ancient ruins of Masada and the Dead Sea. Catherine and I floated in it last year on our Petra Jordan trip. We stopped at the world-famous Dead Sea cosmetics company AHAVA where we saw an informative multimedia presentation and received expert advice from one of the many cosmetologists on hand.
The dead sea
Sunday, March 11 – JERUSALEM | TEL AVIV
Today we visited the Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust and continued to the Machne Yehuda Market. We had time there to explore on your own before we departed Jerusalem and made our way back to Tel Aviv.
The train to nowhere
Monday, March 12 – TEL AVIV
Biblical Highlights of the North Tour
We Departed Tel Aviv via the coastal road and the landscape of the lower Galilee to Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent his childhood. We visited the Basilica of Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph. We continued, via Kana, to Tiberias, the lively resort town on the Sea of Galilee. We drove along the Kineret Lake to Capernaum and view the ruins of the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught; Continued to Tabgha and visited the Church of Multiplication of the Fish and Loaves with the beautiful mosaic floor. Proceeded to Yardenit, the famous baptismal site located where the Jordan River flows out from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
Church of the Annunciation
Tuesday, March 13
Pearls of Western Galilee Tour
We drove along the coastal road to Caesarea, the ancient Roman capital and port; enjoyed a walking tour of the theatre and the archaeological ruins and excavations. Proceeded to Rosh Hanikra; descended by cable car into the underwater grottoes and admired the spectacular natural formation. Onto Acre, the Old City recognized by UNESCO as world heritage site; Walked through the market, the mosque and the old port; Visited the remarkable underground Crusader City and crypt and learned about their fascinating history and culture. We then Continued to Haifa for a scenic view of the City, the Port and the magnificent Bahai Gardens and Shrine on our way back to Tele Aviv for the last night of our tour here.
Pictures of Akko below
The city of Haifa and their splendid gardens below
As this title suggests we haven’t been everywhere but I think we can say we have seen it all in Israel and no need for us to return. They just tried to kill the Palestine Prime Minister while he was visiting a water treatment plant on the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, there is a lot of rich history here but we are ready for some R and R in Cyprus starting tomorrow.
We do have another half marathon to run while there on Sunday but besides that, I plan on enjoying the sun and sand along the Mediterranean. That will be our 28th country that we have run a least 1/2 marathon and our 27th half on this venture to run all over the world.
Quick bag update. During my twice daily call to Delta, the automated system said that they have located the bag and it is being forwarded. Since we are once again on the move I stayed on the line to give them our new address. The agent said that she did not understand why the system would tell me that since her system showed that they still don’t know where the bag is also MSP and DTW still have not returned their request for information.
We are enjoying the sun and food here in Cyprus. The organization of this was a bit different than what I am used to. It is sort of like being on a Marathon Tours trip without the organizer with you. When you go online to sign up for the race you get to pick what hotel, transportation to and from the airport etc.
Waiting for you in your room is the race packet and only need to go to the race site for the pasta dinner and the start. The hotel we are staying at, The Mediterranean Beach Hotel has plenty of great places to eat in the nearby area. It is off season here with a lot of construction going on at the same time some places closed.
Kind of irks me that you have to pay for water, even at the fitness center, and for ice. Can’t really complain since the price per night was only about 80 bucks. They have a nice walk path along the water with a nearby archeological site nearby. The internet at the hotel was one of those that kicks you off each time you put your phone down and you have to put the password back in to get back online.
I bought a device for about 200 bucks awhile back called Skyroam. For 9 bucks it provides high-speed internet for 24 hours. I used it some while cruising the Caribbean and it worked well and a few times during this trip when away from the hotel and airport. Most airports in Europe have pretty good internet service.
The race itself was flat as a pancake, out and back for the half and 5 other races running that day. The main road was closed all day but they did have a bus do several sweeps of the hotels to the race start so that was easy enough for us to get there. Getting back to the hotel was a different story but after about a 2-mile walk we were able to find a taxi stand for the ride back to the hotel.
There were some elite runners for both the half and marathon but the total size of those races were only a couple thousand. Quite a contrast to the over 20K we had in Jerusalem. Not many folks to cheer you on also but there was plenty of water, etc along the route. Just like Jerusalem, they were handing out regular size bottles of water which seemed like such a waste since most people on take a few sips and throw the bottle on the ground. The poor volunteers had to first empty them before they could throw them away.
The frigid pool water felt great on my knees after the race and we settled in on relaxing by it each day until we left. We don’t normally do this but there was one restaurant, Nama, that we liked so much we ate there twice. The food each night was simply amazing and not a so-so meal the whole week.
We did get some long walks in and was able to take a tour of the nearby archeological site called, Amathous. The first occupation of this site dates back to 11th century BC. After changing hands numerous times the city was destroyed by Arab raids and abandoned in the 7th century AD.
We are now on our way back to Amsterdam for a few days with an overnight stop in Paris on the way there. Good thing since we had another mechanical on Air Chance out of Tele Aviv for 90 minutes and many on board were sweating missing their connections. We transition to the rail system out of the airport terminal with a brief stop in Brussels along the way.
It is a toss-up as to if we will come back to Cyprus. The weather, food and the people were great but there are still so many other places, everywhere, to visit in our lifetime. Maybe put it on our short list when we slow down 10 or so years down the road when we will probably stay someplace for a month or so.
I am going to take a moment to go off script to tell you a bit about where I started my flight career. The reason I am bringing it up now is that while we were on this trip I saw a post from a fellow pilot, Walter, that flew with me back in the day at Wheeler Airlines.
He posted a picture next to a 15 passenger Beechcraft 99 type aircraft that we flew back then. He now flies for FedEx and we actually ran into in Bangkok right after Catherine and I started running all over the world. He had found that picture and was reminiscing about where his career had started.
I had started a small facebook group called Wheeler Airlines and put his picture on that site. I was then looking around for other pictures on Facebook and ran into another group called Airolina Young Aviators and turns out that Warren Wheeler, at the age of 74, is still trying his best to encourage youth to learn how to fly. He has a very interesting background and his Father and my Grandfather started one of the first black-owned banks and it is still in existence called Mechanics and Farmers Bank in Durham NC.
Warren Wheeler and Bernice Rawls, her husband Frank worked at Wheeler with me
This is where the seeds of me wanting to go everywhere were sowed. I have so many fond memories of those days. I started as Copilot of the Beech 99 to a single pilot, twin-engine, night flights, carrying canceled checks for the Federal Reserve System, to Captain on the Beech 99 and then moved into management with the airline before I left as Vice President, Director of Operations in 1988 for my 27 year career at UPS. My career at Wheeler Airlines/WRA, lasted over 8 years.
Not many pilots can say they have only had 2 airline jobs and even fewer, like me, being in management, did not miss many big family events along the way. I always say I am a blessed man and don’t take anything for granted but plan on trying to go everywhere as long as I can.
I still remember my leather ish garment bag that held an extra pilot uniform, pair of jeans, t-shirt, sneakers and four pockets on the outside. Three each had rolled up white T-shirt, underwear, and socks and the fourth had my toiletries kit. All I needed for a week or weeks out on the road. Now my suitcase has a bit more but the concept is the same.
I love to set goals for myself both close in and far out and now I have my sites running at least a half marathon in 50 different countries and to visit 100 countries. I might have to change that to at least a 10 K since I also plan on dropping down to that distance when I turn 70. Down the road, I will probably drop down to 5K at 80 until I die. You never know with me since my running versus speed walking half marathon times is less than 5 minutes apart. The stress on my body is much less when I speed walk them.
This is probably the last bag update since when I called in they pretty much said that they might find the bag one day but for now plan on not seeing it again. They figure the bag tag came off and it has gone to the warehouse for those type bags in either MSP of CDG. The lady said it might show up in a couple of months since both warehouses are huge.
So the plan now is for us to do some serious shopping in Amsterdam. I have made a complete list of what is needed and can visualize all the stores that will have those items there. I am kind of looking forward to shopping for Catherine and updating her wardrobe. We are going on a river cruise on AMA Waterways to tiptoe through the tulips so some nice blouses and dresses will be needed.
We will be there for 5 nights so that will be plenty of time to get the required shopping done. I am interested to see how Delta handles this claim since we are going to be well over what they are required to pay us. We have been Double Diamond Medallion members over the last three years and have spent an average of 50K with them a year so 2-3K to replace Catherine’s items is a drop in the bucket for them.
Corporate America has a different way of looking at things so time shall tell. However, they decide to handle this will not sway our airline of choice since they have fairly reliable service to most of the places we go. It is sad that a bag tag can come off a bag and it has to go to the land of misfit toys for the rest of its life. I did see an episode of baggage wars where people bid on bags that have not be returned to their owners. The thought of Catherine items being auctioned off somewhat creeps me out.
I had mentioned Ana earlier about her desire to go someplace she had never gone once a year but she takes that idea to an extreme. She has been to the Polar Circle for a run and now is posting from, Tärnaby Sweden, dog sledding. She has been there for a week so far and she takes going everywhere very seriously.
Well, all the shopping is done here in Amsterdam and all ready for the river cruise in two days. Low and behold when I download the last of the 34 receipts totaling 2K I see that Catherine’s bag was put on a plane from ATL to AMS this morning. No call, no nothing from Delta and we shall see if it is delivered tomorrow at the hotel. Not holding my breath.
I now have three bags to deal with and a bunch of clothes until when we get back to ATL in a week. Not sure where Catherine’s bag has been but has at least 6 different bag tags on it. Also, no way of knowing when and how it got to ATL prior to the flight here. Not a laughing matter but if you go online right now it will show that it is on bag claim number 15 at the Amsterdam airport.
The 7 days on the AMAKristina was all that we had expected and more. During the cruise, I thought a lot about going everywhere since we went to a number of places I have never even heard of before. We are not actually much of adventures and typically go places everyone has heard of. The ship itself was barely a year old and this was its first cruise of the season.
The best chocolate shop in the world
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