Monday, November 28, 2016

To make sure I had room for all the photos. I took the time to move all my photos off my photo onto my computer and back them up on Google Drive. This involved moving 1500 photos and about 90 videos. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Money - Weather

Even though England has withdrawn from the Euro both Germany and Italy still use it as their form of currency.

On November 27th the Euro was a little strong then the dollar. One US dollar = 0.942301 Euro.  A US 10.00 bill gets you 9.42 Euros.

Our plan is to exchange US dollars to Euros once we arrive in Europe. 


While it may be early to peak at the weather - it will be December so I assume it will be cold. Looking at they are forecast our weather for Dec. 19th (arrival date) to be a high of 37 degrees with mix of snow, ice and rain. 

After a few days of cold weather we will fly to Rome where the weather will improve. During our stay in Rome the highs will be in the mid 50's. There will be a chance of rain several of the days. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

What you should know before arrival

Before heading over I took a moment and looked at some Do's and Don'ts. When teaching World Geography class I often asked students to research the different places we were going to visit to find out anything important that would make their visit safe and fun. Used a number of sources - one was USA Today newspaper. So here are a few items we've learned about Germany and Italy. 

First, let's look at some do's and don'ts for Germany

  • The fact we will be traveling to Germany in December we need to consider the weather. Germany tends to be cold in the winter so we need to take some warm clothes and coats. 
  • Germans like people on time. Now, we will be meeting up with our son and daughter in-law so time shouldn't be an issue. 
  • I'm sure we will eat out so it's important that we say "Guten Appetit" which in English means "have a good meal". "Danke Gleichfalls" means "thank you". Don't put your elbows on the table. When done place the fork and knife on the same side of the plate. Tipping in Germany is not required or expected but if you tip it's 10%. Also, if there is space at the table in a restaurant don't be surprise they want to sit a stranger with you. Don't eat with your fingers.
  • The following image outlines dining in Germany.

  • Carrying cash will be important because using Credit Cards may not be available. 
  • No Jaywalking in Germany.
  • Recycling is a must!
  • Shake hands with people you meet and say. "Guetn Tag" (good day). Make sure to keep eye contact while shaking hands and do not have the other hand in your pocket. Introduce yourself by your last name. 

Now, let's take a look at our trip to Italy

  • Cash is king - most businesses are not a fan of the credit card.
  • There is NO Italian food -- just food.
  • If we ride a train we can expect that the train will run late. For that matter most things will run late - so be patient. 
  • Once you order don't expect the waiter to come back and check on you. You will most likely have to request your bill. They want to give you as much time as you want to eat. 
  • Taking a Gondolier ride can be expense. Upwards of $65.00 a person. It's much cheaper to take the water taxi if we want to experience the water. 
  • Best foods for Rome where we will be - spaghetti Alta carbonara, spaghetti all'amatriciana and lamb. Gnocchi, bresaola, polenta dishes, and the ultra-popular Italian dessert tiramis├╣.
  • Tipping is not required and only consider tipping if the service is good.
  • Do ont put parmesan cheese on any type of seafood. 
  • Salads will have olive oil or vinegar but no salad dressing.
  • If we want the best pizza it said that we need to go to Naples
  • Pickpockets are common - take extra care.
  • Found this photo that provides some guidelines as well

General thoughts
  • Be prepared to surrender your passport at the hotel. It is common for the hotel to collect your passport.
  • Plan on turning your key in at the desk each time you leave instead of keeping in your pocket like you do here in the states. 
  • Many of the older hotels will have smaller rooms and that includes the bathroom. I don't believe we will actual be in a hotel. Our German stay has us at our kids house and in Rome, if I understand correct, we rented a house. 
  • Driving etiquette varies from country to country. For example while in Germany you only use the fast lane to pass. You don't use it to cruise in. 
Ok that gives us some insight to our venture. My plan for the next post will be around packing for the trip. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Passport Needed

Pam’s passport was outdated and I’ve never gotten one. So we both had to get our passports in time for our trip.
We both couldn’t find our birth certificates so took steps to get copies. I contacted my home town and requested a form that would get me a copy of my birth certificate. After getting the certificate I drug my feet. I finally got the form notarized but then again let it sit on my desk. After awhile I finally mailed the form with a twenty dollar bill. A few days later I received a call from the courthouse of my birth town. By the time they received the form the person who notarized my form license had expired. Therefore, I had to get another form and have it notarized by someone else. Then mailed the new form. It took a few extra weeks but I finally got the birth certificate.
But like the required form, I let my birth certificate site around. I found out that I had to schedule a meeting with the Post Office and take a special photo that needed to be taken by Walgreens (there were few other places I could of went as well). 
Pam took care of her request with the Post Office quickly. She came home and said it was a little challenging because the lady she meant didn’t appear to be very nice. Once the Post Office process the paperwork it had to be sent off to the federal government for final approval. According to the Post Office this could take 60 to 90 days. It took over 30 days for hers to arrive.
Well again, I put off setting up the meeting with the Post Office. I finally setup the appointment the first of November.  Yes, I know that was cutting it close. If it took more then 60 days I would not be able to go. I went to Walgreens took the photo and the following day went to the Post Office only to discover the lady at the Post Office was.a mother of a former student. She was great to deal with and after a short while the paperwork was done. Now I just had to wait.
To my surprised my passport arrived just in couple weeks. So now, I'm ready for the journey. 

My wife and I will be traveling to Europe over the holiday break 2016.
The general planning wasn’t to difficult since our daughter in-law started the process and both of them are making the agenda for our visit. But let me take a moment and share how we organized our departure.
Sara (daughter in-law) booked our flight from Kansas to Germany. But we learned there was going to be a problem when we arrived at JRK airport. We needed to get our luggage and travel to a different airport and catch our flight overseas. This had to be done within and hour. So, Pam (my wife) made a call to the airline to make a change. It took about 20 minutes and she felt the lady was extremely helpful and nice. The following month we received our Cable bill (our phone is connected to the Cable bill) and saw our bill had jumped by 120.00. After thinking that I had watched a bunch of movies on demand she realized the increase was in our phone bill. Upon additional research she learned that 20 minute call was overseas and the change in our flight cost us an additional 120.00.
The new flight plan has us leaving KCI on December 17th at 7:30 a.m. We will arrive in Atlanta around 10 a.m. Then we will board a plane at 5 pm to cross the pond. That plane is scheduled to arrive in German at 8:30 a.m.   If you do the math Germany is 7 hours ahead of us here in Topeka. That means when we arrive at 10:00 a.m German time 
it’s 3 a.m. our time Yes, we will be loosing 7 hours crossing the Atlantic.
I will write more about about the agenda in Germany and Italy later.