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Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Vienna - Dark beer and dumplings

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This is a re-post as the original appears to no longer be on the board

Part 1 - Outbound

For ease of read, I am going to split this report into four parts. The first will be the outbound experience, the second Prague and Cesky Krumlov, the third Vienna and the last the return.

Outbound:

Planning – In my somewhat typical; fashion I began to plan al details of this trip late last Winter and had all air, accommodations, event tickets and dining reservations in place and fully locked by April. That’s my style, although given the airline industry these days, my bother leads to more frustration than satisfaction.

We had decided that this year we would forgo the usual November trip to Paris/France and spend sometime out side of France. I have been a big fan of the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, and we dove into it with our focus still on Europe. Several cities made the short list and Prague and Vienna rose to the top. Neither of us had visited Prague and the now famous “Pancaky Papers: Thingorjus in Praha”, on this board, sealed the deal on our curiosity. Vienna had been off my list for awhile. A visit 25 years ago had left me unimpressed. My partner however, has been enamored with Linda Eder’s song “Vienna” and for that reason, I consented (a decision I now do not regret). The book also pointed us to Cesky Krumlov a delightful USESCO World Heritage site between the two cities. As a side note, for those of you wondering where you might like to travel, pick up a copy of the book, it’s great inspiration.

Next step; air reservations. Amazingly I was able to book a relatively simple itinerary with Delta with direct service via Atlanta to Prague and direct service from Vienna back to Atlanta, each with 2 hour connections to our home in Hartford. To top it off I acquired exit row seating on all legs and was able to use Skymiles at the off season level. The gods had smiled on me…. or so I thought.

With the help of many of you on this Board (and a blanket “Thank You” to all). I moved on to apartment reservations. I, like so many of you got over hotels several years ago (a special thanks to Nikki) . Apartments offer clean, large living spaces and the added advantages of cooking facilities, “neighborhoods” in which to live if even for a few days and generally are much more affordable and a better value over a hotel.

In Prague, we booked through Arcadia Residences and had a very comfortable apartment (called Vlasska2) in the Malna Strana (the Lesser Quarter) just a block from the US Embassy and just beyond the security checkpoint. I’m not sure if that added to, or detracted from, my sense of comfort. I will say the location proved to be perfect from a dining perspective. Arcadia Residence arranged for a driver and he met us at the airport. The same was done for the return. The driver met our flight and at less than $30 and a “complimentary” return to the train station was a service that was greatly appreciated. The driver will also provide car services for day trips. All said at about $110/night this was an excellent choice.
http://www.arcadiaoldtown.com/?apt=vlasska&lang=en&menu=home&PHPSESSID=c45f6a47c91b8512cef5033f9bcc73b5

In Cesky Krumloff we stayed in Pension Lobo. This choice was primarily because of the shuttle service they offer to Vienna each day. Mentioned on this board and in guidebooks, the pension is clean, bright and they run a tight ship with a nice breakfast.
http://www.pensionlobo.cz/?lang=en

For Vienna I chose an apartment at the Augarten Apartments run by Familie Walkner. Apartment “A” a one bedroom is perhaps the largest one bedroom apartment we have ever stayed in anywhere in Europe for the price. At over 600 sqf it was clean, spacious, well equipped and furnished in what I might guess to be Vienna style ala 1980 (bring your crushed velvet blazer)….. also at about $110/night a night a great value. The best part was that the newly opened subway station “Tabor Strasse” on the U2 line is just outside the door, making for a quick trip to all of Vienna! (note: many subway system maps in tour books are out of date and do not include new stations added in 2007-2008)
http://www.apartment.at/index_eng.php3/app/12

Details of ticket and dining reservations will be posted in the appropriate parts of this trip report – all were smooth and easy.

Reservations made, I printed my spreadsheet, closed my folder and was ready to jump into the Summer season in Provincetown. May and June came and went and in late July I felt a need to check the air reservations… the rising cost of fuel made me wonder about flight schedule. This proved to be wise in that Delta had canceled their Saturday service from Vienna and re-booked me on Friday. That shortened our trip so we opted for a Sunday return. Still had exit row seats. I now decided it made sense to check our reservations weekly and sure enough the Sunday service was cancelled a couple of weeks later. In both cases there was no proactive communication to me from Delta. When the Sunday flight was cancelled, we were automatically re-booked on a 32 hour itinerary that would make anyone’s head spin. Vienna – Amsterdam – Detroit – Cincinnati - Atlanta – Hartford, with a couple of 5+ hour layovers. That was not going to work for us in any way and after 1.5 hours on the phone with a very helpful Delta representative, (while I was on Expedia checking schedules) we were on an 18 hour itinerary, Vienna – Paris – Atlanta – Hartford. At 23 hours door to door it seemed like it would be a long trip (it was).

Our flights to Prague were perfect and our seats were as selected. The $7 charge for a nip of vodka did not please me but at least Delta offered one drink free of charge during the meal service , call it “American Ingenuity”….or lunacy…..the meal was at best marginal, but I have come to learn that quality and service are victims of free enterprise and not to be expected from American flag carriers.

I had posted a question about proof of health insurance – no one at the airport asked or really showed any interest in arriving passengers.

Last item on the outbound, two “friends of friends”, traveling separately had arrived back from Prague the weeks before we left and both started their commentary to me with how awful Czech food can be and that we were best off eating pizza. I did not believe them for a minute and chalked it up to their inexperience traveling. I was right. The food in Prague is varied and there are many options. All that we ate, to include the “traditional” food was prepared and presented well and always a fair value. We did our best to avoid tourist locations as one should in any international city.

Part 2 – Prague and Cesky Krumlov

Arrival Day - We arrived in Prague and as usual our luggage was the last off the plane. We had even tried changing luggage to break the curse. Our driver whisked us into the city in a new black Mercedes and Pasquale met us at the door of the apartment. The apartment has a very small entry with a small first room with basic cooking equipment, a love seat and a table and chairs. The bedroom is very large and has a fabulous old. painted ceiling. The TV is in the bedroom and must be watched from bed, but other than the news of our failing economy there is really no reason why you should watch TV while in Prague

A shower and short nap and we were ready to hit the streets to get our bearings and locate the restaurant at which I had made reservations for the evening. U Sedmi Svabu proved to be a 4 minute walk from the apartment so we roamed over to the Charles Bridge. We crossed the Charles bridge from Malna Stana and on the left by the falls we saw what looked like a beer garden. We ventured over and had our first dark beer and sausage sitting amongst locals and watching riverboats and paddle boats pass by along the river., in the distance, the Fred and Ginger house was just within out site. We crossed back over and along the way we stopped at the Church of Our Lady Victorious to see the Infant of Prague and collect the “needed” tourist “relics” that the Church so thoughtfully provides in their gift shop. Out “infant” is encased in Lucite and we would later realize that it looked great in our Vienna apartment.

Dinner at U Sedmi Svabu proved to be interesting. The setting is medieval and we sat at a long communal table in the upstairs room and soon afterwards tourists from Sweden sat at the same table. We had already ordered dinner and our starter of sliced meats and cheeses arrived promptly along with sumptuous glasses of beer. The other guests upstairs were Czech. I suspect there was a group of about 30 in the cellar room. Once we had struck up a conversation with the Swedes our tables service promptly came to a stand still while all others were still being served. After 55 minutes and no one coming to the table or asking for their order the Swedes left. Our dinner arrived shortly afterwards. I have since learned that at the end of the 30 Years War the Swedes took several treasures from Prague, to include many of the original statues on the Charles Bridge. Animosity by locals abounds and I suspect this was the cause in the service lapse. Our entrees were goulash and the special skewer of grilled meats. Each were excellent, served with the local dumplings and cabbage. My partner has since fallen in love with dark beer and goulash … if only I could devise a diet based on that concept!

A word about dumplings – this is a traditional food through out central Europe and in my opinion they are a treat. I hear a lot of folks bashing them and I must say “get over it”. Dumplings are a starch and no different than the mounds of potato carbs we eat in all forms and to excess. Bread dumplings are only a small leap from our Thanksgiving stuffing and the dampf knodel served in Austrian ski towns are a little short of heaven – so eat your dumplings!!!

Day 2 - we were greeted by our guide Stepanka Holess www.prague-my-love.com
who came prepared with an extensive orientation itinerary for the day. Her secret is that you do not actually see everything (go into and fully tour each site as it were). But, rather she moves you from place to place, giving you inside knowledge (best times), history, lots of pointers and prepares for days on your own. This was perfect, in that we quickly gained comfort with the entire city. We wound up out the day having coffee (well actually wine) at café Slavia with a nice view of the river. I had my first pancaky and was now hooked (beer, dumplings and pancaky….you can see were this could be heading).

At the suggestion of our guide we had dinner at “The yellow house” as she called it on Kampa Island. I believe the name to actually be “At The Charles Bridge” as is posted in large letters on the side of the building, but don’ let that hold you back. We decided it was time for more Czech food and we were not disappointed! Our entrees were a ½ roasted Czech duck that was the largest I have ever seen and a ”pigs knuckle” that would rival if not exceed any schwein haxen served in any German beer hall. Both were cooked perfectly, moist, tasty nicely seasoned and served with fresh cabbage and of course dumplings. A couple next to us ordered the duck for two and when it came out it was stunning. A definite recommendation to anyone who enjoys duck. This is simple hearty fare and not for those that fill up on a half chicken breast and five string beans. We came back.

Day 3 – it was Monday and of note for others is that many of the tourist spots are closed. Our guide prepared us for this and we spent our morning in the old Jewish quarter of the town (which is of course closed on Saturday). This was fascinating to see the progression of life for the Jews of Prague during the many of hundreds of years prior to WW II. I am a lover of old cemeteries and this one is certainly on my list of top 10. We then ventured back to Old Town square for beer and goulash. Yes, it was greatly over priced, but it was a sunny day, and sitting in the square taking in the sites that come with tourism can be so much fun. Far too many tourists only see the cities they visit through the eyes of their camera lens and I suspect they never really get the pace of the places they visit.

Dinner – Restaurant David , http://www.restaurant-david.cz/en/

Once described by Thingojus as “ethereal” and he was not off the mark. David is located across from the US Embassy and up a small street that is an extension of Vlasska. Dinner was not about traditional Czech food but rather an artful blend of the traditional Czech and French and perhaps a touch of Nouvelle Cuisine. The extensive menu includes ala carte as well a choice of 3 menus. The menus are “traditional”, “chefs” and “gourmet”. We opted for the gourmet menu ordered glasses of champagne and settled into our meal with a lovely bottle of white wine. Now the fun began. I’ll mention the high notes and the one negative As a first course, the fois gras is to die for and after two nights of dumplings what could it hurt. The crab and seafood salad was also yummy. The soup course blew us both away. A “cappuccino”, served in a demitasse cup was a sweetened asparagus soup layered with a top of fresh cream and a few drops of truffle oil. On the side a cheese twist cracker. We both almost passed out with joy. My entrée of lamb was cooked to perfection. The sole may have been a bit dry, but the flavors were on the mark. Deserts was grand and of note was the chocolate cake served with a fresh mint sorbet….who would have thought….and then we were presented with desert wines and cheese to finish our meal. The wines were in stem glasses that must have been at least 20 inches high. All in all, a delight – the exchange rate has made David and expensive night out (over $300), but I would do it again without hesitation. The ala carte menu or the Traditional Menu with beer would have yielded a s significantly lower bill for those who want to experience the adventure for closer to $100. 2 minutes walk back to our apartment and I slept like a baby.

Day 4 – full blown tourism, the castle quarter, Strahov Monastery, the Loreta Church, Petrin Hill, back into old town and further roaming around Wenceslas Square. Lunch was at Klasterni Pivovar http://www.klasterni-pivovar.cz/en/
directly across from the doors to the library at Strahov . They serve an excellent un-pasteurized dark beer and as an accompaniment please have the beer cheese if you find your self at Pivovar. Their Schnitzel was moist (and hearty) as was their chicken St. Norbert. The monstrance collection in the vault at the Loreta were amazing to see…. Not to be missed.

Our evening was dedicated to seeing Swan Lake at the State Opera. I had booked box seats back in April and the production was lovely. Having now consumed three days worth of beer I feel compelled to speak about the seating at the Sate Opera. Orchestra seats as we know them are large and plush as are those in the section in the center of what I will call the first balcony. Boxes surround the theater and the first row is only slightly elevated from the orchestra floor. Skip those. Boxes above seat four to six people on small but comfortable chairs. Our box (#26) was on the first floor (second in American terms) and was immediately next to the central seating. An excellent choice. The web site allows you to choose your seats. Avoid those that are in the second row of the boxes. Your site will be limited, they sit to far back into the box. The 3 in the first row can be tight if all 3 are occupied. One of ours was free and the beer did not get in our way. Tickets can be purchased via http://www.bohemiaticket.cz/WBS/ang/ and printed on-line before you leave.


Dinner was back at the “Yellow House” – we opted for light food choices of skewered meats and were not disappointed.

Day 5 – Cesky Krumlov (CK) – Our guide had arranged for a taxi at 815 and it arrived early taking us directly to the train station with plenty of time to board the 9 AM train to Cesky Budovich (CB). I had pre purchased first class tickets via rail Europe with reserved seats. They cost a little more, but I like to know where I am sitting. As it turns out someone had tried to sit in one of our seats. They moved to another compartment and we then had the full compartment to ourselves for the trip. The train was on time but far from up to a standard that we might expect in the rest of Europe. Spacious, yet dirty. A remnant of Communism. There was however a food service cart. This was far more than I could have imagined. For the hardware enthusiasts out there you know those red hardware carts the sell in Sears and other stores, those with little drawers and the big black wheels. Well apparently they work out well for train food service. Our cappuccino was instant, in a bent cardboard cup with hot water that was poured from a 20 year old leaky orange Igloo cooler…. You know, the kind “bug juice” came from when were at camp. A stark contrast to David. The trip was smooth and on time. In CB our plan was to take a taxi to CK. However, the train to CK was at the platform so we jumped on. A mistake. I had read that it was a slow local train stopping at every cow crossing. It was – we lost a good hour.

From the CK train station we took a short cab ride to Pension Lobo. (I avoid taking my luggage wheels on cobble stones). As noted previously Lobo was a good choice. The rooms are simple, IKEA furniture, bright colors, but really tiny hard towels.

CK is a delightful town and well worth the stop – it has survived the centuries nicely and from a historical/monarchy perspective provides a nice connection between Prague and Vienna. The castle is a “must see” as the interiors are in good shape and nicely furnished. The Dresden chandelier as well as the others are worth the price of admission alone. Our guide “Rose” was quite the hoot and when she broke out in full soprano while we were in the hall for costume events I almost fell over. Walking the town is much like the experience of walking through Carcassone or Mt. St. Michelle in France…. Tourism has struck the UNESCO sites and it is what it is.

Lobo suggested U dwau Maryí (the The Two Mary’s) for dinner. I was hesitant but an afternoon stop for a beer by the river and crackers made with cabbage convinced us to return for dinner. They advertise traditional Czech food and all that I saw on tables looked excellent. We opted for the Medieval Feast with pheasant. The couple next to us had it served as we arrived and neither of us could resist. It is a large platter with dumplings, ham, cabbage, pheasant (just a little), sausages, and best of all was a ‘cake made with mullet and/or buckwheat vegetables and perhaps some flour, lightly pan fried. I t was almost like a dressing, but one of the nicest veggie items I have ever tasted. The restaurant does have a vegetarian menu and if this was an indication of there food, it is a must stop and eat place for vegetarians.

Does anyone know the recipe for Czech crackers made with cabbage?

The Lobo shuttle to Prague left on time. I would suggest that you be out side early, ask how many people re going and try to secure the front seat for the best view. The seat does seat two…if you are small. The trip was smooth uneventful and arrived on time at the West Bahnhof.


Part 3 – Vienna – Day 6 (note I have now gotten my day # sequence correct)

As noted the Lobo shuttle arrived on time and the Augarten apartments provided directions from the West Bahnhof to the apartment via the subway. My map did not show the station indicated (Tabor Strasse), but I realized it was a new stop so we ventured forward. The U-Bahn is as easy to use as the Paris METRO and we were at the door of the apartment within 15 minutes. We were greeted by a woman who I half expected to break out into the song “So What” from Cabaret and ask me for 100 Marks. (thankfully she did not). We were taken to the apartment and were delighted by the size and high ceilings. The street outside is busy but the double windows ensured quite even during busy hours. This apartment, for the price is a true find. As I’ve mentioned, the furnishings area bit dated, but everything was clean and there was a stack of fresh towels! The fully equipped and large kitchen also was a treat. There is a grocery store directly across the street and within minutes we had wine and snacks.

The day was grey and the rain was light. We took the U-Bahn to a stop that connects with the trolley on the Ring and spent about an hour riding the ring and getting ourselves oriented to the city. We walked to St Stephansdom, toured the church and then a couple of others in the area. We then headed back to our apartment. It was getting dark and thanks to the suggestion of a poster on this board we had dinner reservations at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. A shower and a quick change into sports jackets and were back on the U-Bahn headed to the museum for the 6:30 dinner opening. I had requested a table under the dome and would suggest that others do the same. These are definitely the better seats for the experience. Dinner is a buffet served as 3 courses and the food is varied, nicely prepared, beautifully presented and well worth the visit. “dinner at the Museum” is only offered on the Thursday nights and this was a great introduction to Vienna! Between our main course and desert we explored the almost empty museum at our own pace and were able to appreciate the vast collection. We ate no dumplings and drank no beer (a first for this trip). The Veltliner wine offered was very nice and seemed to compliment all of the food options presented. The wait staff was on the mark and this is a buffet to remember. I took many photos…for more info. and reservations:
http://www.gerstner.at/betriebe/kunsthistorisches-museum/kunst-genuss.html?L=1

Still a wet night we headed back to the apartment and watched the news before a comfortable nights sleep.

Day 7 – Vienna - the Hofburg Quarter

I had purchased tickets on-line for the morning exercises at the Spanish Riding School, so we were up and out early arriving at the entrance about 9:30. The crowds had already begun to arrive. Seats are not assigned so if you wish to sit in the first ring you should arrive early. It appears that special tour groups are allowed in early, but they are escorted to floor seats at one end. We joined the “rush” through the one entry point and found that we could stand in the first ring or sit in the second and look down on the arena. We opted for the second. As time progressed, after the first hour, folks started to leave and we were able to move. Notably the morning practice is 2 hours, but there really is no “show”, so about an hour is enough time to appreciate the horses, the setting and the music. A late arrival, at least on a weekday in the off-season would have been fine. For tickets to this and other events:
http://www.viennaticketonline.com/

After the riding school we headed directly to the café at the palace and enjoyed a light meal and coffee. Leaving slightly early from morning practice gave us an available table. Out goal was to stay ahead of the crowd from morning exercizes. Similarly we paid for our admissions and went to the museum ahead as well. I am a lover a finely set table and with dozens of sets of china and several sets of sterling I thought I was doing pretty well. Until I saw the collection of the Hapsburgs in the Silberkammer at the Hofburg Palace. This family had it all going on!!!! Wow – I was definitely the crazy tourist of the day snapping pictures of every china pattern and every table setting….even the Japanese tourists were outdone be me and my camera…… Sadly the crown jewels were not open to the public (they were not open in Prague either perhaps they are all being sold in order to fund the European financial recovery programs). The rest of the Hofburg was breath taking and the exhibit on Sisi (Empress Elizabeth) was fascinating. Too bad anti-depressants were not available to her – she may have had a happier life.

The day was sunny and we decided to roam around and take in the city the rest of the afternoon and slowly wandered back to our apartment. Tired of eating out, we decided to cook dinner in this night. The grocery across the street provided a lovely blue cheese, crackers and wiener schnitzel, seasoned green beans from the freezer section. I made some fresh tyrolean pasta like pockets filled with wild mushrooms topped with butter. Desert was a package of great frozen dumplings stuffed with blueberries and dusted with poppy seeds. A nice bottle of wine and at about $20 a lovely relaxing meal. I had difficulty with the microwave so I cooked the food using the stove and the oven (the old fashioned way)…..maybe it was the wine….

Day 8 Vienna – The Belvedere Quarter
This, our last day, is the day I “hit the wall” and grew very tired, of churches, palaces and museums. We woke up late and headed to the crypt of the Hapsburg royalty at the Kapuziner Kirche. He church itself is a non-event, but the crypt, just outside and to the right is a worth while stop. The royal caskets are fascinating, each a work of art and each reflective of the persona they entombed. The most recent have been added in the past 10 years so you see the span of style from the flamboyance of Maria Theresa to the subtle dignity of those who have passed recently.

We then headed to the Belvedere, arriving at about 11:30. There is a special exhibit in the lower Belvedere that partially re-creates the 1908 Kunstschau in Vienna that was largely hailed as Klimt’s most important exhibit. It featured his work as well as many pieces from the Vienna Style of the period. The exhibit runs until January and though small was well worth the time. I overheard a German couple who by their accent I suspect were from the Stuttgart area. As they were leaving they commented that although skeptical of the value of the exhibit they were very pleased with the presentation and the variety of work displayed.

We walked to the upper Belvedere, had a light lunch at the café and headed into the museum. My brain promptly shut down. I’m pretty sure I saw what there is to see, but after a week of much the same it became a blur. I will say the Klimt pieces in the museum are noteworthy and for fans of his style this is a must stop and see museum.

We then headed out and around Karlsplatz taking in the sites before going back to the apartment. I was tempted to cook in again, but this was our last night in Vienna and I had made reservations at the Gulaschmuseum on Schuller Str. very close to St. Stephansdom. A quick drink of diet iced tea and vodka and we both rallied and headed out for dinner. The Gulaschmuseum is an interesting spot for dinner. The clientele seemed to include locals as well as tourists and the menu comes complete with pictures and translations into English, which usually scares me away but seemed oddly OK to me. Goulash for both of us is a winter weather treat and we wanted to try some new varieties. Top of the list that night for us was a goulash made with chicken livers. The sauce had a deep rich flavor the nicely complimented the smooth rare livers. The Hungarian goulash, slowly cooked over many hours pared nicely with dark beer and of course dumplings! www.gulasch.at

We headed home knowing that we must finish packing and be ready to meet our driver to the airport at 5AM.


Part 4 – The Return

As I mentioned in Part 1, we had gone through several gyrations of reservations for our return flight from Vienna. On the outbound when we checked in I validated that all was still as planned for the return. While in Prague and Cesky Krumlov I did not see an internet café that was handy given our travels and therefore did not check on our reservations until 2 days before departure. I started with a call to Delta who put me on hold for 20 minutes and then came back confirming our outbound flight from Vienna and letting us know that while it was their code share with Air France, it would also be a code share flight with Austrian Air and were to go to their check in kiosk. Ok, got that and the next day I did find an internet café (they seem to have disappeared in Europe). I checked our reservations and all appeared to be fine except our seat assignments from Atlanta to Hartford were no longer showing. I knew this had already been a full flight….the knot in my stomach started.

Well, we headed to the airport as planned. Our driver was affiliated with one of the airport car services (red vehicles) was early and delivered us swiftly. Austrian Air check in was easy, but because it was a Delta code share they could not provide boarding passes, that need to be done in Paris. Luggage was checked through to Hartford – a good sign. Austrian is by far the nicest airline I have been on in decades. The staff was pleasant the plane was immaculate and the food was excellent. Imagine this – we were in coach and we had a delicious hot breakfast!

We arrived in Paris on time and trundled off to the Air France transfer desk. Boarding passes were issued and we started through the maze of security. I did not have my original itinerary print out but felt a tad uneasy about the seat assignments – they did not look familiar – the knot got tighter. Well, Delta (or Air France) had apparently made the decision to move us to the center of the plane and I was now in a center seat on the same Delta plane that we had booked in the exit row. My partner had the aisle and my feeling was it may as well only be one of us that suffers so I stayed in my assigned seat for the flight….this, a far cry from the exit window/aisle we had just a few days before. The staff had their “who me, not my job attitude”. We boarded and learned that numerous other passengers had been shifted around; most of them had booked an AF flight that was cancelled. So, I guess they see if they have enough passengers to fill two planes, and if not they just randomly move everyone around. Seems to me that I had contracted Delta for a specific seat and they did not honor the contract. That would be true of virtually every other industry, but not our airlines. So 11 hours in a center seat for slightly claustrophobic me at over 6 feet tall and 240lbs was less than fun. To boot I had to buy the drinks that would preserve my sanity. The lady next to me, also moved around, managed to polish off all the gin on the plane; at least I was not alone. Adding to the space misery the average temperature in my seat for the flight = a balmy 76 degrees.

We arrived in Atlanta on time and our flight to Hartford left the gate on time, but guess what…..they moved our seats again – this time to the back of the plane next to a broken toilet….what happened to my exit row seats???…. No one knows. We sat on the runway for almost an hour and arrived in Hartford late…. But we did arrive and our luggage was with us. given that the itinerary was as long as it was I was happy for that fact.

22 hours door to door in a center seat……a co-worker of mine had given me a jar of homemade red sauce which I had saved for this night. It, with fresh pasta with shaved parmingano reggiano and a bottle of Chianti provided for a grand late dinner that rounded out a very long day.

Given that this seat swapping seems to happen often (5 out of the last 8 times for us now) on the flights out of Paris and generally Air France is at play, I’m beginning to re-consider my choice of transatlantic carriers. A letter to Delta will be authored this week…. It’s doubtful whether anything will come of it…. I’ll keep you posted.

One last note – we are now dieting….trying to shake of the pounds gained before the year end holidays come into play…. But oh. I do long for dark beer and dumplings….

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