Drinking in The Scenery

News Flash! Club Soda illegal in Europe!!

After those long trips from Philadelphia to London and then from London to Paris, we were thirsty!

We Learned that drinking habits are different in both of those places, as compared to the US.  Of course, we think of London as everyone drinking pints of beer (particularly Guinness), and we think of the French as so many million wine drinkers.  Yes, that is all true, but there is more to it.

It is true that the Brits appear to be very beer-centric, and we found the pubs to have quite a good selection.  There appeared to be a substantial brew-pub culture going on there not unlike what has taken off in the US over the past ten years or more.  We stuck mostly with wine though, and had no trouble finding good wines by the glass, carafe, or bottle.  Regarding wines by the glass, one thing we saw almost everywhere we went in both cities, was that you would ask for a glass of wine and they would ask you what size you wanted.  Menus listed sizes also.  A small might be listed as 175 ml and a large might be listed as 250 ml.  (That’s about 6 oz. and about 8.5 oz.) We found those sizes to vary slightly and sometimes to be listed in centiliters instead.  We got used to that, soon learning to ask for the larger glass. read more

Up in The Air (and home)

The iconic Tower Bridge, which spans the Thames next to The Tower of London.

(I actually wrote the below and processed the photos on the plane in the middle of our flight, but then opted not to try to figure out how to get the WIFI connection.  We got home safely at almost 5:00 Saturday afternoon after an approximately 9-hour flight!  More soon on trip details, ups and downs, other stuff.)

This is a test.  This is only a test.  Can we do a blog entry from an airplane?  Why not?

It is about 6:00 PM Paris time / high noon Philadelphia time and we are 5 or 6 miles above the Atlantic Ocean hurtling through space inside an aluminum tube at 500 miles per hour.  I understand the physics of it, but it still doesn’t make much sense! read more

Paris to Philadelphia

Crepes are everywhere. Excellent and inexpensive street food!

Bon Voyage to us!

(Quick entry before we try to figure out our first ever Uber ride to Charles de Gaulle airport and our date with Air France.)

As Sir Paul says in one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Were on our way home”.

Between London and Paris, it has been a busy and exciting two weeks away from home.  We have had a fantastic time and have many more pictures and stories to share, but we are looking forward to getting home to our own home, bed, and kitties!

Yesterday morning, as we sipped our café au lait, we decided to bag the idea of waiting in line to go through the catacombs.  So, we shall add that to the list of things we had wanted to see or do, but cancelled due to long lines and/or massive pushy crowds.  Ah well, we just need to come back in November! read more

Rainy Day In Paris

A pretty good view of the flying buttresses that support the main chapel of the Cathedral of Notre Dame

Actually, we have had several rainy days.  At this point the small umbrella that my wife packed for me is gradually disintegrating.  I am hoping it lasts at least through tomorrow and then I can leave it to its destiny in a French landfill.

On Tuesday, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium, and that was our first rainy day since London.  Bruges is a very well-preserved medieval city in northwest Belgium.  As we strolled around the town it seemed like around every corner there was another incredible castle-like ancient building or another charming stone bridge over another narrow canal.  Though it was wonderful to wander the winding streets and hidden passages through the town, it was also very crowded.  We heard languages from all over and it was clear that Bruges was a very hot destination.  We had not even heard about the city before we saw the Colin Farrell film “In Bruges” when it came out back in 2008 and we wondered how many of the other visitors were in the same boat.  The wife and I agreed that the great old-world beauty of the place coupled with the massive crowds made it all seem very much like being in Disney World’s World Showcase area.  That’s a shame but I suppose a compliment to Disney! read more

Sunny Morning in London

View looking east along the Thames. We are staying near the Shard skyscraper on the right.

Greetings again from London!  We have been zipping around the city for several days doing some touristy things and some not-so-touristy things.  I think at this point we are mostly adjusted to the time change but it is still a bit hard to get up early in the morning.  Mrs. Working Stiff has been very pleased at the very fall-like weather here.   One note to myself for future visits would be that it would be good to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt even in July or August.  Also, the need to bring that umbrella is no joke! Fortunately, we packed (and used) two of them. read more

Quotable Quotes

Crepe Myrtle Trees in Raleigh, NC

(Today’s picture has nothing to do with the bulk of this entry.)

I traveled to Raleigh a few weekends ago to hang out with my brother. Later this year he and his wife plan to relocate to the area of St. Augustine Beach, so I figured I’d better get in a last summertime visit.   The Crepe Myrtles were in glorious bloom all over town!  I took this picture during a walk around the neighborhood.  They were really quite something to see, especially when a whole bunch of them were lined up in a row. read more

Flags and a Major Award

Happy 5th of July everyone!  Hopefully no fingers were blown off yesterday.  Actually, at least a few times in my younger (and dumber) years, I have had firecrackers go off in my hand.  I can tell it to you straight that it hurts like a $#!@#@**&!, but, temporary pain aside, all ten of my fingers are still right where they’re supposed to be!

In keeping with an informal tradition of a handful of years, our neighbor joined us for a simple dinner at our favorite local spot, after which we retired to the deck of the Chateau Working Stiff for too much excellent California wine. We did light off a few packs of Black Cats and a small assortment of other spinning, whizzing, and spark-shooting things out in the street in front of the house.  Apart from that we retired without bothering to catch any of the major firework displays that must have been airing on all the networks.  One of the firecrackers must have somehow gotten inside my skull, because I remember having to get up at about 2:30 to take a Motrin.  Or maybe that was the wine. read more

Some Ambient Morning

Just a brief entry to report on a strange and interesting thing we encountered this morning.  It being a leisurely Sunday morning we were relaxing upstairs with our coffee and waking up gradually to our favorite Philadelphia radio station, WXPN 88.5.

I should mention that WXPN does a regular morning show on Sunday that they call Sleepy Hollow.  It’s all about quiet music to wake up to.  Earlier than that, like midnight to six A.M. or close to that, is a show called Echoes, which features all manner of new age and trance-like music.  (We rarely hear that show unless we are doing something unusual such as driving to the airport for a super-early flight.)  Generally, that stuff stops by about 6:00 and they start playing more mainstream music. read more

Anniversary in Princeton

We did a little celebratin’ last weekend to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Working Stiff! We made a reservation at the Westin Princeton Forestal Village (on Rt. 1 just outside of Princeton) for Saturday night and set off on our mini-adventure.

Our first stop was Grounds for Sculpture, also just off Rt. 1 east of Trenton.  The weather was not great but it was good enough and we had a very nice visit overall.  (I’ve written about Grounds for Sculpture before – please see entry from 11/22/2015.) read more

Birthday Wine in New Hope

The Working Stiff had a birthday just this past Friday, and we celebrated as well as we could, given the dreary day. We have had quite a stretch of rainy and/or cold days, with but a few breaks of sunshine.  I suppose it’s that old April showers thing, though the rainy streak does back up well into March.

At any rate, the Mrs. took a half day off from work and we decided – goll-dern the weather – lets go out! (Note that I knew a real person who used to say “goll-dern”, and variations of that, and it wasn’t me!) We set off towards New Hope, northeast of Le Chateau Working Stiff along the Delaware River. read more