Love Locks – Frankfurt

Love Locks Bridge Frankfurt

There are thousands of locks in all shapes and sizes, each of them representing the love between two people. It’s a growing collaborative sculpture that expresses the beauty of love and relationships. 

The Eiserner Steg Bridge in Frankfurt, Germany, was originally built in 1868-1869 and updated in 1911.  I’m not sure when the padlocks began appearing, but I’m glad that they are allowed to remain on this historic bridge.

I met a nice couple from Malaysia who were in Frankfurt on vacation with their children. We took pictures for each other and had a wonderful time sharing stories on the overcast day. 

Then I pulled the lock out of my bag. It had traveled with me all the way from the U.S.  The special love of my life is my son. So our love lock is now attached to the bridge. 

Love locks in Frankfurt Germany

As I headed back to the train station so I could return to the airport before my flight, I wondered about the people who had put their own locks on the bridge. Are they still together? I sure hope so. The locks are a way to freeze a moment in time when love and hope are strong.

If you ever head to Frankfurt, Germany, I highly recommend visiting the Eiserner Steg Bridge. It was the highlight of my brief time in Frankfurt.

I love you, Travis!!

 

Bubble Man of Frankfurt

Sometimes getting lost in a big city is a good thing.

I left the airport in Frankfurt for a brief tour of the city during my layover. Almost from the moment I stepped out of the train station I was lost. The streets listed on the map were so small, I had a hard time reading them. A few blocks later, I decided to ask for help. A friendly couple stopped and pointed me in the right direction. I traveled a few streets too far and ended up on a pedestrian style mall. There I found the Bubble Man. He was a street performer unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and he spread his joy with bubbles. 

Bubble Man Frankfurt

The children laughed chasing the bubbles down and the adults laughed along. There is something about bubbles that sends me back in time to when I was a kid. I found myself giggling out loud.

Bubble Man Frankfurt

The Bubble Man reminded me of a conductor and we all stopped to appreciate his music. About five minutes later, the rainstorm hit and the magic was packed away. I never would have found him if I hadn’t been lost. What a fun moment in time.

Thanks for sharing your joy, Bubble Man!

Preparing for a 10 Hour Layover

skyline of Frankfurt at Hauptwache
The layover hits almost right in the middle of my 40 hours of travel to Cape Town, South Africa. 40 hours? Yes, 40 hours, 10 of it in Frankfurt, Germany.

I can choose the very conservative option of playing it safe and hang at the airport. It may be less stressful, but I think sitting for ten hours in preparation for my 11 hour flight to Johannesburg would drive me crazy.

The other option is to take the train from the airport into downtown Frankfurt to visit a few of the sights and to have an early dinner that includes anything other than airport food. The ability to get my body moving and my blood pumping sounds great. While I’ll be careful about what I plan so that I’m back in the airport in plenty of time for my next flight, I can still take a few hours to see a very small part of Frankfurt. It’s a beautiful city in the country of my ancestors and I don’t want to miss out.

Here is how I’ve prepared:

  1. Reviewed and printed the map for the Frankfurt airport
  2. The train to downtown actually leaves from the terminal where I’ll be and there is an information booth nearby where I can get the scoop prior to leaving
  3. Checked out possible places I want to visit on Trip Advisor and other tourism sites
  4. Discovered I can leave my carry on luggage at airport storage so I can travel light
  5. Made sure my travel outfit will include comfortable shoes and a jacket

I’m looking forward to this part of my trip almost as much as the rest. It will be good to get out an walk for a few hours. I have a few surprises planned and will be posting photos.

Do you play it safe on long layovers or go experience new adventures while you are on the ground?

Dipping My Toe into the Solo Travel Waters

The freedom of solo travel

The first time I ever traveled solo was the day I stepped off the train into Salzburg, Austria in the fall of 2000. I broke the first rule of solo travel safety by demonstrating that I was an obviously lost tourist as I opened the large noisy map and studied it closely. Thankfully, a small older woman quickly pointed me in the right direction and I was on my way. I loved Salzburg. I had a wonderful time viewing areas I’d been long admiring in the movie The Sound of Music. I returned to Munich and reunited with my friends later that night.

While I’m not quite a solo travel virgin, my upcoming trip will challenge my ability to travel without anyone I know. My first few days, I’ll be on my own just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been to the Cape Town area before. It’s a beautiful city where people are very friendly. This is where I have scheduled the cage diving with the great white sharks. There is a BIG smile on my face just thinking about it.

Then, I head to Namibia where I’ll meet up with fellow travelers I’ve never met who are joining me on the safari. There will be a maximum of eight people and our guide. So, my first solo trip isn’t really solo. It was a good compromise to help me begin the adjustment.

My love of travel has taken me to many exotic places, some of them are locations where very few people I know want to go. The trips are usually about two weeks long and can be expensive. I save and plan my vacations around these opportunities to travel. For me, the choice is to learn to travel on my own for those times when my travel buddies can’t come, or to just not go. I don’t consider delaying or missing an opportunity to travel a good option, so I’m on the path for solo travel.

I’m not someone who minds being alone, as a matter of fact, I’m an introvert so I need this time to recharge. I’m also single, so I’m used to doing things alone at times, like eating out and going to the movies. Still, I am a bit nervous about not having someone else to rely on when traveling in other countries.

Luckily, there are women who have already traveled this road and are very happy they did. Here are just a couple of my favorite solo travelers who inspire me and provide great information for those of us on the same path.

Journey Woman

Solo Travel

This trip is an adventure in many ways and I’m excited to get started. Let the countdown continue…

Is solo travel something you’ve ever considered? Any tips?

Ebola and My Trip to Africa

Illustration of the Ebola virus

I’ve been asked numerous times this week whether or not I’m afraid to go on my upcoming trip to Namibia and South Africa with the current Ebola outbreak on the African continent. My answer is no, for the following reasons.

I spoke with Ian from the Africa Adventure Company yesterday to finalize a few details on my trip. I asked him what impact they have been seeing. At this time, he isn’t aware of any travelers who have cancelled their plans, but people are asking if there are specific things they should be aware of while they travel.

Many countries in Africa rely heavily on tourism and if the ebola virus spreads or if travelers panic and refuse to visit, it will be a financial catastrophe for each of those countries. I’m not surprised they are taking it seriously. Not just because of the financial implications, but because they want to protect their citizens.

Will I be taking some precautions? Yes.

  • I’ll be wiping down hard surfaces on the airplane with anti-bacterial wipes. I’m still doing research on which wipes I’ll purchase. I’m not sure if it will help, but it certainly won’t hurt.
  • As always, I’ll be vigilant about washing my hands throughout the trip.
  • There are experts in all these countries that have far more knowledge than I do, so I’ll be listening and acting on the instructions provided at the airport and other locations.

I can’t even begin to imagine the horror and sadness of those impacted by the Ebola Virus in Sierre Leon, Guinea and Liberia. Just following the headlines will tell some of the story. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone suffering from this terrible virus.

Ebola Outbreak Instills Terror in West African Families

As I write about my trip, I’ll be including what I’m seeing and experiencing relating to the impact of this outbreak in the countries I’m visiting. Please sign up to be notified of new posts if you are interesting in following along. 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

driving on the left side

My International Driver’s Permit is in hand. Watch out world!

It was surprising how easy it was to get. I’m not quite sure what I imagined, but a passport style photo, a valid driver’s license from my state of Colorado and payment were the only requirements. I walked into my AAA office and fifteen minutes later, I had my permit.

Now comes the more difficult part, actually driving on the other side of the road on my trip to Africa. I’ve never done it before. I’ve always been the passenger. So this will be one of the adventures associated with my trip. Not only learning a new way to drive, but doing it alone in another country. So how to begin? By Googling it of course.

Here are the tips I’ve found so far:

  • Follow the other traffic
  • Write a note reminding myself to stay to the left and tape it on the dashboard
  • Confirm I’m driving an automatic so I don’t have to think about using a stick shift on the opposite side at the same time I’m concentrating on staying on the left side of the line
  • Add GPS to the car rental so I easily know how to get to my location
  • Think “hard left, wide right”
  • Keep the center line on the driver’s side

While I’m nervous, I’m also excited. South Africa seems like a great place to start. Once I get used to it there, it will be much easier to drive when I travel to England and Ireland where the roads are much narrower and the rock walls much less forgiving.

Here’s one of the YouTube videos that gave some great tips and pointers:


Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?

I’m About to Experience a Jaws Moment

Jaws Great White Shark
DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

I can hear it. The music intensifies the sense of horror involved when something you can’t see is swimming up from beneath you. I was sixteen years old when Jaws was released in theaters. It was a terrifying movie and I loved every minute. I saw it many times then and I watch it at least once a year when it’s on cable. It’s still a great movie.

I contemplated going to school for marine biology after being introduced to the great white shark. Instead I researched wild life management and then settled on business related classes. Still, to this day, I’m fascinated by the oceans and great white sharks.

So, when I rescheduled my trip to Namibia for later this summer and ended up with a few extra days on the front end, my travel agent, Ian at Africa Adventure Company, suggested cage diving with the sharks as one of several alternative activities. Cage diving with great white sharks off Dyer Island in South Africa? Count me in!!

Cage diving with sharks has always been on my bucket list and thanks to Ian, it’s been booked. It’s more like cage snorkeling, but still, I’ll finally be face to face with the incredibly beautiful and dangerous creatures of the deep. Shark diving at 55? I’ve been waiting a long time. Sounds perfect.

DA…da

DA…da

DA…da

 

Travel Guard Rocks!

Travel InsuranceA month ago, I was packing my final clothing for my trip to Namibia when I had a severe attack of stomach pain and had to cancel. It was frightening and such a big disappointment. The good news was that I had travel insurance through Travel Guard and, yesterday they sent me a check.

What Happens When You are Too Sick to Travel?

The trip is back on for August and I couldn’t be happier. Once I get the final details for the rescheduled trip, I’ll apply my refund and double check my packing list. I have received treatment from my doctor and am back to 100%.

Everyone I dealt with at Travel Guard was wonderful and when I called to check on my claim, each person could easily look up the details of my case and give me timely updates. They were friendly and more than willing to answer all my questions. No long waits on hold.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about whether or not I was going to have a battle on my hands. It never developed. I was treated with respect and Travel Guard has earned a customer for life. Thank you!

What Happens When You Are Too Sick To Travel?

Intravenous IV dripI’m sad…

I should be in the Olive Grove Hotel in Namibia, enjoying the very first stage of my big trip. Instead, I’m in my home in Denver writing this post. I can’t help but torture myself by looking at the itinerary and imagining myself there instead of here. Never would I have guessed that less than 48 hours before I was to climb on the airplane, I would be lying on a bed in the emergency room of my local hospital.

Imagine extreme gut-wrenching pain radiating from my stomach and around my rib cage including my back. I was very concerned that I was having a heart attack. Thank goodness they ruled that out immediately. As the pain and vomiting continued, it was clear that I was in no condition to travel or to even begin to attempt 33 hours of four different flights, with layovers, just to get to my first hotel. 

Thousands of dollars of special lenses and photography gear I rented from Borrowlenses, sit on my kitchen island and my almost fully packed bags lay on my bedroom floor. I am so disappointed, I can’t even tell you. I very seldom get sick, so this was a real shock.

What happens when you are too sick to travel? I’m finding out from personal experience.

First, as always, I purchased travel insurance for the trip when I booked it late last year. The policy is with Travel Guard, a company that friends highly recommended. I insured my trip for $13,000 so it included flights and all the on ground transportation and accommodations. My plan does cover sickness of the traveler. As I read the policy in more detail over the weekend, I discovered it would not have covered me if I had traveled with an illness that began before I left the country. It will not, unfortunately, cover the photography equipment rental.

I always buy travel insurance for my international trips. Still, I hate to use it. After all, it means that something has gone wrong. But, that’s why I purchased it and while I couldn’t travel at this time, I hope to reschedule. Namibia is calling and I still plan to answer.

I booked my flights through United Airlines, where I have frequent flyer miles. I called them on Friday afternoon and cancelled the trip. The ticketing agent was wonderful and patient through my emotional explanation. The upgrade fees were immediately refunded and my flights cancelled with the costs credited for future travel. There is usually a $300 cancellation or change fee, but they have waived it because of the unusual circumstances.

Ian from Africa Adventure Company, who coordinated my travel arrangements, was very kind. My costs are not refundable. It’s very clear in the contact I signed and I completely understand. It would not be possible for all of the companies on the ground to fill my slot at such late notice. I love working with Ian and he will definitely be my go-to guy when I’m ready to rebook the trip.

I’ll be completing all of the insurance claim paperwork requesting a refund of $7,205.00 this week and heading back to work on Wednesday. I need my vacation time for when I am able to reschedule my trip. I’m not sure how long it takes to process a claim through Travel Guard, but I’m hopeful they will respond quickly.

While I know it was the right decision for myself and the people I would have been flying and traveling with, I’m still so very disappointed that I’m here and not there. As my sister says, there’s a reason for everything and while I don’t understand it, it will eventually all work out.

I’m not sure when, but soon, I’ll be walking the streets of Windhoek, Nambia, and this disappointment will live only in a post on my blog and as a footnote in my travel journal.

Is Full Time Traveling After Retirement an Option?

Retirement TravelingAs I’ve continued to research life after retirement, I’ve been amazed at how differently it looks for so many people. Retirees leaving full-time jobs have so many options these days, with people living healthier and longer lives. Here is just one example: Lynne and Tim Martin, who retired into full-time traveling. I’m fascinated by this couple who sold their home and spend several months at a time living in different countries. They blog about their travels on HomeFreeAdventures.com.

Lynn and Tim’s story sounded so amazing, I wondered, could I do it? Sell my house and spend the majority of my life on the road experiencing other parts of the country and the world?

Nah…

While it sounds intriguing and I’m planning to follow along on their adventures through their new book and blog, I just can’t imagine stepping into that life.

Why?

I love returning to my house and knowing there is someplace safe, quiet and yes, filled with my photos and other things that make my life so comfortable. I can’t imagine selling almost everything. I like to be surrounded by my stuff. I also love my neighborhood and the convenience of grocery stores and restaurants that are within walking distance.

Family members and friends live fairly close by and it’s easy to spend time together on holidays and spur of the moment kinds of things, like movies and dinner. I know there are single people who travel a lot, but for me it would be difficult living “on the road” by myself.

Bubbaweb

And…just as important to me are my pets, my two dogs Olive and Sadie, and the royal kitty, Bubba. I don’t ever plan on not having animals as part of my life.  Coming home to wagging tails is such a wonderful thing after a long busy day at work and knowing that I can spend more time with them after I retire is a bonus.

I admire how adventurous Lynn and Tim are as they live in different places around the world, many that I plan to visit. Full time traveling is certainly an option, but not one for me. Most of my retirement time will include home, family and furry friends.

Is full time traveling something you’d ever consider?