YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
That was we have always heard since childhood and for the most part that is how life has worked out for me. Every now and then you get a win fall and pay for a coach seat and get upgraded or the opposite will happen when you go out to eat at a high price restaurant and walk away feeling you have been ripped off. With all of these trips for the past 11 months I have had to track all of our expenses and try my best to find the a great value for our hard earned dollars.
After we left Bordeaux we headed to Marseille for destination number 78. There we stayed at a Renaissance by Marriott and it was brand new and had all the comforts of home. I gave plenty of details of the Marseille area in my last blog, 60 at 60, but this is all leading up to our next venture down to the French Rivera and my long awaited visit of Nice, France
After a short train ride we were given directions by our apartment host of exactly how to get to his property. Short walk then 4 stop tram ride and there we were, met by Michael, for a short walk to our apartment for the next 10 days. It sounded like a good idea at the time. 10 days to unwind on the French Rivera in Nice France but knowing me things were not going to work out exactly as planned.
The two floor bag drag up the flights of steps was not out of the ordinary but when the door swung open my jaw dropped. What I saw was exactly what I saw in the pictures provided but for some reason I did not realize how small the apartment was and the fact that Michael was now showing us his two bedroom apartment where he was going to remain in the other room and that everything else including the toilet and shower was to be shared. Lucky for us he was going away for business the next day and he and his girlfriend where going to be gone for the next four days.
Not to go into many more details on the the sheer size or lack there of the entire apartment but needless to say the quick change from a 5 star hotel to this took awhile to truly absorb. Not quite sure when I was planning this portion of the trip as to why I went right by Cannes on our way to Nice from Marseilles, the train even stopped there on the way to Nice but this was a great opportunity to make a slight modification to our plans and back track to Cannes for a few days. J.W. Marriott has a property right on the main street adjacent to the water so with a deposit of a few thousand points plans were made to take a few days visit. The timing was perfect. Our roomies would be back in a few days so upon their arrival back we left for Cannes.
Don’t get me wrong, they were perfect host and kept to themselves while we were there but I must admit my college days are well behind me and it just felt weird to have others in such close proximity to us. Everything really did work out since we were on the French Rivera and we did not spend much time in the apartment. We ran or walked along the strip adjacent to the beach every day and to be perfectly honest I only got my feet wet while there. Did not realize that they do not use sand in Nice and big pebbles were more their style. I must admit listening to the waves crash against them was mesmerizing but the thought of trying to wade out amongst them simply did not appeal to me. Sitting outside at the many different caffe’s, bars and restaurants watching the people go by also consumed a lot of our time.
The nights were filled by a great meal at one of the literally thousands of restaurants there were to choose from. Also on a occasion a Kilkenny night cap that I was able to find at a few of the local bars/pubs. World cup ruby was in full swing so many places had big screen TV’s set up outside for the fans. Not to sure about the rules of that game but must admit it was pretty brutal to watch. We were also able to find a few places that had live bands at night and one place and even encouraged everyone in the place to dance on the tables. That was totally out of the question. I could hardly stand up in the place with my feet firmly planted on the floor.
One evening after dinner, looking for something a bit different we heard some pretty good music coming out of one tapas restaurants. Upon entering I noticed that the music was actually coming from a DJ but the beat was pretty good. They had a pamphlet for a drink menu and seemed to be able make every drink there was to be made. A lot of the local favorites but we were looking for an old MIA favorite, Expresso Martini. Could not find it in their pamphlet but with a quick search in my phone I located the recipe and walked up to the bar and showed the bar tender. She took one quick look and said in perfect english. “You want an expresso martini?” I held up two fingers and off she went. She was in her own world and I sat mesmerized as she worked her magic. They were the best I had ever had and my three years working in MIA and a frequent guest at the Blue Martini, I considered myself an expert.
|Espresso beans is a great touch|
Decisions, decisions, White Russian or Dark and Stormy
Two thumbs up for the folks at Big Brown who made this all possible
The two nights at the J.W. was unimpressive but the hour long showers were delightful. The beach was made out of sand and the runs and walks were great but it just seemed a bit too expensive for my taste. Gucci here and Gucci there but the usual guys on the street selling hats and selfie sticks brought balance to the experience. The food was great but I now longed for the apartment back dab smack in the middle of everything.
I don’t often sit out in the sun, but when I do it is on a couch that can handle my 6 foot 6 frame.
Stay tanned my friend
Found my car in Cannes
Short walk from the hotel to the train station and before I knew it we were back for another 4, college dorm nights in Nice. Just in time for me to start trying to figure out how exactly how we were going to get from their to our next destination of Monaco, France. There I was expecting the lives of the rich and famous and low and behold I was not disappointed. It was rather strange that to get there you had to leave from the other train station in Nice but to get back the train went right back to the main train station. Don’t figure.
The real fun started when we arrived at the Monaco train station. Escalator up one level, elevator up another and then another escalator follow by a flight of steps. Pulled out the phone and we were 20 minutes away by car and 2.5 miles walking to the hotel. A bag drag the entire way was not an option so we proceeded to the taxi stand up the street. Two cabs but no one in them. That was very strange but a passerby said at this time of day, noonish, a taxi was not going to happen. Actually he waived his finger back and forth but I knew what what he was saying. Showed him on my phone where we were going and got pretty good directions on how to get to the hotel. Pointed to the bus stop, but up four fingers and said, Stadium. Low and behold the number 4 bus pulled up. I said Marriott and gave him a 5 euro bill and he told me, “ I will tell you,” in broken english. I tracked our progress on my phone and he looked up in his rear view mirror and pointed us to the door right next to the hotel, which was right next to the soccer stadium.
Wow, I know my mouth was wide open the entire time we were there but I really did not care. I had made it. I am now living amongst them in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Walked the first day, ran the second and did the big red bus the third and can tell you we saw it all. They actually have a casino that is so impressive that they charge you just to walk inside.
Outside the Monte-Carlo Casino, now I can’t decide which car
There was a path that ran from the hotel right along the water. Only separated by a small railing, rocks and the splash of the water. Wow, I have now seen it all. For now, I might add.
We have what I commonly refer to as travel days. Not much is accomplished at the departure city or the destination and the goal is to arrive somewhere around the time on the schedule.
This next travel day was going to be somewhat complicated and as we tried to get from Monaco to Brussels, Belgium. Another planes trains and automobiles type event would be in order. Van to the train station, train back to Nice, extremely crowed bus to the airport, plane to Paris, Charles De Gaulle, CDG airport, Air France flight 7185, which was actually a high speed train to the main Brussels train station. I thought a short walk would take us to the hotel but I miss calculated exactly which train station we were arriving at so here the options were, bus, subway or cab. You got it, 25 euro later we were out front the Renaissance, by Marriott, where there they have my favorite slogan. Live life to discover.
Since we were going to be there for 5 nights I opted for the Marriott extended stay apartments located right next door. The best of both worlds. Here we were to take part in the Brussels Half Marathon. I have a love, like relationship with Marathons and Half Marathons. I love the sense of accomplishment when I finish a marathon but like running a half marathon mo better. I am sure I will be saying the same thing about comparing 10K and 5K races when I turn 80. The weather was perfect. Mile walk to the packet pickup. Mile walk to the 10:30 am race start and another short mile walk back to the hotel from the finish. Who could ask for a better Half Marathon. The time to complete was the best in awhile and got to run by all the sites Brussels had to offer.
Only wish someone could have been telling about all those sites as I went by them like they do on the big red bus but I digress. That was a business idea I had and still might pursue. Every time I think of doing so I come to the same conclusion. It sounds to much like work. Had another idea the other day. Maybe I will take this blog to the next level and make Youtube videos out of them. Once again, sounds to much like work. If I only knew how much I would enjoy retirement I never would have worked.
|Coke and a smile|
The day after the race we walked back to finish line and did the normal tourist type things. Walked the streets and looked at all the old churches and buildings. Stopped at a caffe or two and had a flight of beer. Okay, I did find a pub that had Kilkenny.
|Which one first|
|Able to find a shop with her name|
Day after we were on a quick 9 hours and 52 minute flight back to ATL. 4 movies later back at our homestead of the Airport West, Marriott Courtyard where everyone makes us feel like we are home, NORM, Cheers. We did our superman impression, CVS, Target, Vitamin Shop, Storage Unit, UPS Store, Cleaners, a load of laundry, and even managed to get in a 3 mile run. 44 hours later back on a Delta jet and now headed to Kona Hawaii, KOA.
In August 2011, I became a Iron Man in Louisville, Ky and now on my way to live out another one of my many dreams. In Kona I will get to watch the true triathlon professionals compete in the World Championships Competition.
|So many examples of this in my life as a runner|
At mile 90 of the bike portion of the Iron Man competition I sat on the side of the road trying to fix my flat tire as my legs were spastic. I heard that voice load and clear. That was just one example during my 15 years of running.
I posted that I would be in Kona on Face Book right before I left and with a quick response I will meet up with a current UPS Pilot whom him and I go way back. Hopefully we will meet up for dinner while I am there. He will be on a weekend layover I am sure we will catch up and reminisce on the old days where he was referred to as Perl.
Time to arrival 4 hours and 30 minutes at 36,000 feet with a ground speed of 593 miles per hours aided by a 71 mile an hour tail wind. 2,338 miles ahead of us and 2,267 miles behind for our destination of Honolulu. Short 2 hour connection and then 1 hour 25 minute flight to Kona, rental car to the hotel where it will be around 6pm local or Midnight body clock, Atlanta or 6 am back in Brussels where I was 2 days ago. OUCH
Time for another movie and a glass of wine.
Kona was all that I had expected and more. Got to run along the same route the professionals will deal with in two days and was able to soak in the entire experience up and personal. I really do mean up and personal. Turns out the hotel we choose was the same one the Iron Man use for their base of operations. The swim was right out back. The transition was right out back and the after party was, you guessed it, right out back.
Four years ago right after I completed the Iron Man I flew a trip on UPS to Kona and that is where the seed was set to come back and watch the action for myself. I have seen it many times on TV but needed to see and taste it. When I was there before it was the week before the event but the city was still all a buzz as for many of the competitors had already arrived. The Marriott we were at now was the crew hotel so I was able to get a great feel for the land. Turns out, because of the Iron Man, the UPS crews were moved to another Marriott up north.
|Love the slogan, Anything is possible|
We were there from beginning to end. Saw the last person out of the water, first person on the bike, last person off the bike and the first male and female finishers. We even hung in with some breaks to the pool to see the final woman cross the finish a few seconds prior to the 17 hour, mid night cut off. I even posted updates on FB in real time. The thoughts of doing another one danced in my head but I came up with the same answer as before. Sounds to much like work.
The winner as he goes out on the run
|First Woman finisher|
The next day I was able to hook up with Bill Perlmutter, with UPS and we were able to do the usual “reminisce.” I was did offer on piece of advise. I do this with anyone near retirement age.
DO NOT STAY A DAY LONGER THAN YOU HAVE TO.
He has a plan, which I approved so it was great to talk about the good old days back in 88 at UPS.
Here comes another example of getting exactly what you pay for. This trip I planned a year in advance and bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale for that time period. The flight out was flawless but somewhere along the way I missed the fact that the Delta computer decided that instead of a roundtrip to Kona I would rather have two legs from HNL to Kona and no leg from Kona to HNL. You guessed it. First clue that I missed was that I was not able to check in but that flag did not catch my eye because that same thing just happened out of Brussels and that just meant I got the full monty in terms of security screening at the airport.
No seat for us out of Kona so back to the hotel for a flight 10 hours later. We made it to ATL 10 hours late and still arguing with Delta on who fault it is and what they are willing to do in terms of compensation. Cheap fare equals pay close attention to the details. No big deal, I have 10 more flights booked on them and with any luck I will finally make Diamond.
Back to the Marriott by the airport for a few days then off to Downtown ATL in an apartment at the 300 Peachtree Condominiums for a week.
Nothing really noteworthy to speak of but it was a nice change of pace and even cooked a few meals. Right now at the Delta Sky Club lounge for our flight to JFK, 2 hour connection then on to Dublin Ireland. That will be Destination number 87 in 11 months. We will run a marathon there which will be number 61 for me 74 for Catherine my 7th this year. After that we will tour Portugal in Porto and Lisbon. Then on to Madrid, Spain and Istanbul, Turkey where we will do another Marathon 3 weeks later, the last for the year.
|Sites in Istanbul Turkey|