Our Journey to Torremolinos

This is an odd post for me to get right. We were planning an adventure to southern Spain when my dear sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ruenitz, passed away unexpectedly. In my heart, I carry many memories of her on this trip. No pictures, just some memories: her subtle sense of humor, how she and my daughter shared their favorite Tom Lehrer songs, the care she gave the cats and my brother, and the tributes from her co-workers at the FDA. It worked out to add a week in Atlanta to our plans to celebrate Elizabeth’s life with my brothers and other family members.


Sometime in the 1980’s I read Michener’s fantasy novel, The Drifters, that relates the lives of a group of youngsters that intersect in Torremolinos in the 1960s. When we decided to look for Spring in Europe, I wondered what might remain of the young free life. Our final destination would be Malaga on the Costa del Sol of Spain. First, we would explore Torremolinos and some southern points.

Here are some images to carry with me from Kuala Lumpur to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Atlanta. Then, a week later, Atlanta back to Amsterdam. After a day in Sloterdijk neighborhood of Amsterdam, we flew down to Malaga Airport, heading 10 km south to Torremolinos.

Our take on Torremolinos. The youngsters left and came back when they retired, like us. Many retired British and German expats here along with Spanish jubilados who find the weather less harsh in the winter.

Covid-19 concerns. Before leaving Malaysia, we were already limiting our social engagements. Getting together with my family, Wife and I used the Indian bow and greeting of Namaste, and did not touch or hug. No reason for us to take chances as we are all on in years except for my grand nephew who has just turned one. So far, so good.
We are staying indoors in Malaga Spain now during the State of Emergency. Its rainy and cold on the Costa del Sol so no big deal. We have an apartment for 4-6 weeks with several small grocery shops just up the street. Out of the little kitchen come Soups Stews, Salads, and Olive oil with fresh “pan integral”, whole wheat bread baked locally.

Not that Zealand, This Zealand

I can’t believe the travel we completed the last week of August.

Here is a selection of photos. (WordPress mostly puts them in order.)

And some more:

 

Our route from Georgia:

Atlanta – Istanbul – Copenhagen/Norrebro – Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Copenhagen/Malmo Sweden – Doha, Qatar – Auckland, New Zealand

Normally, we would not take such long flights but there are not many options when going to New Zealand. Another factor was that both Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines had offers that made the price almost as low as flying the direct route through Los Angeles. Additionally, we got a chance to visit the Faroe Islands, ticking off another autonomous region in Europe. Qatar Airways offered a nice discount on a stopover stay at the Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels in the old market. Our stays around Copenhagen gave us the chance to discover the dynamic neighborhood of Norrebro of Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden connected by train directly to the Copenhagen Airport.

The 16 hour flight from Doha to Auckland was simply long. Compression socks were life savers. Malmo really needs another visit for a week or more.

New Zealand was originally named after the Netherlands province of Zeeland. The derivation of Zealand, the most populous island of Denmark is not clear.

It was worth it, we had an appointment with Daughter in Auckland. Having coffee at the Remedy just off Queen Street.

 

Calming Down in the Smokey Mountains

After Santo Domingo, we flew non-stop straight up to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my brother, Peter, and his wife Elizabeth. Then, we spent a couple of weeks driving up to Richmond, Kentucky to see my friend David from college, then south to recharge in the mountains of Appalachia. We found a place near Waynesville, North Carolina in the Pisgah National Forest. This was near to Canton and Asheville.

Way too many photos of green, blue, and smokey mountains.

Impressions:

We rented a car.  There really is no other way to get around the United States.  Even though the steering wheel was on the left side and gear shift on the right, it turned out to be really easy to take care of all the stuff we needed to do.

We broke up the long trips into two days with lots of breaks.  In one section we stopped in Franklin, North Carolina and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Franklin was a quaint small town with local arts and a specialty bakery. Pigeon Forge was bustling with bright and loud American entertainment venues including Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, restaurant chains, and theme parks.  So many contrasts between these two, yet we found both very interesting with stuff we needed.

It has been about six years since seeing Peter and Elizabeth. I think, the last time Dave and I met up was in 1993. He wrote a song for my parents 50th wedding anniversary.  He’s still the character he was when we hitchhiked up and down North Dakota and Minnesota over 50 years ago.

Trivia: Canton, NC was probably named after steel manufacturing city of Canton, Ohio. Canton, Ohio likely was named after Canton, China now Guangzhou near Hong Kong.

 

 

Yarrow Tea

A little diversion from my usual posting.  Rest assured, I am not starting a food blog. I am thinking about tips for the trip type postings.

This started with an expedition to our local MegaImage grocery store looking for tea. There I found a line of teas produced in Romania so I randomly chose one called Coada-Soricelului.  On returning home, Master Google informed me that it was Yarrow Tea well known for analgesic qualities.  Perfect, as I have been nursing soreness in the knees since Mexico.

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When Daughter came out, I told her about my discovery of Yarrow Tea.  She responded, “Oh you mean, Achillea millefolium, used by Achilles warriors to staunch wounds?”

“Umm, yes,” trying to hide my ignorance and sneaking a look farther down the Google page.  For her, the story begins in the summer of 2008 in the back seat of our Honda Accord as we drove around the Eastern US.  She bought an herb dictionary about three inches thick from a bookstore at the University of Purdue, in West Lafayette, Indiana.  Alphabetically Achillea was one of the first entries. I can only guess how many times she read through that book entry by entry.

Looking back at all our photos from that trip, I see none from Purdue nor with her book. The best I found was the banner photo on the border of Maine.  For now, we are doing well as we finish up in Bucharest drinking Yarrow tea, St. Johns Wort tea (Sunatoare – hyperici herba) and Peppermint tea (Ceai de Menta – Menthae Herba).

RTW01 1980-81

In 1980, my company, NCR Comten, sent me to NCR Japan for software support of the first installations of our Networking Communications Processor.  Recently, a reply to my comment in Cook the Beans blog reminded me of that trip and my visit to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo in 1981.  This was one episode of that first trip aRound The World (RTW). This brings me back to the original idea of this blog to reflect on journeys and paths that brought me here.

I saved the diaries of my travels during those times for many years.  With our moving on, I wrote up some summaries and highlights and saved on Google Drive.  Much of the information written was technical notes and contacts.  Certain parts of that fourteen month trip are very vivid; other parts are just a mesh of several trips through the same areas.  My notes suggest I left Minnesota around 1 October 1980 and returned to my parents home for Thanksgiving in late November 1981.  Unfortunately, only a few blurry pictures and some scraps of mementos remain from that trip.  The many transitions of life and work resulted in a box or two purloined in various archives and the dumpsters of life, later to be left for collection at the side of the road.

Collecting and Collating digital searches, memories, and artifacts for this post reminded me of several amazing coincidences and connections that played out over the years.

First, a link to the itinerary contains a few notes gleaned from my diaries.  It’s a placeholder for my memory as details begin to fade.  The experience was so new and fresh, I never expected the frustrations trying to remember details today.

Itinerary RTW 1980-81

Itinerary1980-81

Here is the list of cities I visited in approximate order.

St. Paul, MN; Tokyo, Japan; Nikko, Japan; Yokohama, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; Kamikura, Japan; Busan, Korea; Seoul, Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; Hongkong; Macao; Manila, Philippines; Batangas, Philippines; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei; Singapore; Melaka, Malaysia; Georgetown and Penang, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand; Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar); Rome, Italy; London, UK; Paris, France; Milan, Italy; Belfort, France; Bitche, France; Basel, Switzerland; Mont Saint-Michel, France; Cherbourg, France; Windom, MN

Three artifacts:

Three meetings:

The hardware tech assigned to NCR Japan was Sanford “Charlie” Brown.  After Japan, we worked together in South America, New Zealand, and SE Asia. Our paths still cross.  He taught me how to wirewrap.

In a Singapore hostel shared breakfast table with sisters Bea and Ev from France.  Years later they would pick me up from Luxembourg airport after spending ten days crossing the Soviet Union.

Anura Guruge at ICI UK.  He sent me to consult in Paris and Milan on a remote printer problem.  Some years later, I would find and read his first book, SNA Theory and Practice, in the NCR Japan technical library.  Some years after that, I would work with Lisa Lindgren an associate of Guruge’s consultancy.

Three things learned

Don’t be surprised.  Different cultures, different languages, different circumstances all have their ways of dealing with the situation of the moment.  Some of these will be completely different to what you might find usual.  Observe and Appreciate.

Grammar and Language: “Order word not necessary is.” Along with: “Verbs not necessary.”

In those days, I could live in Melaka, Malaysia for U$S 3 / day.  Knowing that, I only worked for fun from then on. I always knew that I did not have to put up with a bad job after that.

Here is the full map thanks to Google:

RTW_1980-81.JPG

In the years that followed, I circumnavigated (both westward and eastward) the earth many times providing onsite computer networking support.  There were some trips to South America and to Africa.  The type of technical career I did no longer exists.  In the past years, we have deviated from the original route more and more as we have free time to venture to different countries.  Here is my TripAdvisor Map:

TripAdvisorMap

Stops Along the Way

After reuniting with Wife’s family in Tapah, Malaysia, we began what has turned out to be an epic journey in less than four weeks.  I hope a timeline helps me make some sense out of this.

Feb 14-16 Petaling Jaya, a suburban district to Kuala Lumpur.  Wife and I met up with her brother, David, and her sister, Vicki, visiting from Sydney.

Feb 17-21 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.  A short side trip before our return flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Feb 23-Mar 1 Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy. Met up with Daughter and classmate on their way to and from Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This must be our favorite airport as we most often post from the airport’s Art exhibits.  We stayed in the city of Ferno which borders on the actual MXP runways allowing us an afternoon walk of plane spotting.

Mar 2-6 San Diego.  We flew into LAX, Los Angeles for a drive down the coast to visit Brother George and wife Gloria.  A chance to celebrate her birthday and his final chemo sessions.

Mar 7 Los Angeles. Travel Inventory Day. Last sunny day.

IMG_8355
Leaving the cloudless skies
Mar 8-11 Seattle. Home (sort of).

Mar 12 Vancouver, Canada. Lucky we planned to relax and recuperate as it was the wettest, cloudiest March on record.  Our apartment was in Metrotown section of Burnaby city, just east of Vancouver.

IMG_8409
The day without rain
Here’s the whole map courtesy of Google in case you are curious.  For simplicity, not all flights are shown.

FebMar2017

 

 

Reblog of the Case for Bad Coffee

A friend of mine shared the article below on LinkedIn. As my blog and facebook account attests, I have drunk many cups of coffee and tea in many different shops and many different locales around the world.

The Case For Bad Coffee

The author captures many of my opinions about instant, regular, and hand-crafted coffees. A cup of instant coffee with a little sugar and powdered creamer on a long bus ride across Turkey made for a nice pick-me-up. The article also captures the complex economics of whether coffee house local roasted fair trade single origin espresso is worth the difference in price from a cup-o-joe served in a paper cup from a coffee urn at a charity benefit? In Korea, I frequently received an electronic pager when ordering coffee to alert me when to pick up my order. The coffee was good, but I still ponder was it worth the wait.

I like my coffee hot and black. In reality, it does not have to be that hot or that strong. Here are a few photos as evidence.

Amersfoort_Coffee

A cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and blazing Internet connections.
A cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and blazing Internet connections.
Coffee was a big part of this trip.
Coffee was a big part of this trip.

IMG_6298 IMG_0127-0

Our Three Month Visit to North America

I originally titled this as our visit to the United States, only later realizing that we went up to Canada so “North America” is more appropriate.  Wish we could have co-ordinated a run down to Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico to catch up with George and Gloria making it a full North American adventure.

We spent an interesting three months, June through August, hanging around Seattle, Washington, meeting up with Daughter between University Semesters, visiting my home town, and relaxing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Summarizing a trip this long comes down to decisions on what to include, what was unique, what was inspiring.  Looking through our photos poses the dilemma of which ones are favorites.  I love them all for the stories they reflect rather than their artistic merit.

Here are some of the places we were. Although we mainly visited new places, one of the themes was eat and drink our favorites.  As some of the photos show, coffee and mate were big on my list.

Tukwila, Washington – We started in Tukwila, a small city just a walk north of SeaTac airport.  There are a surprising number of parks including a botanical garden, Duwamish river walk, and community center sports parks.

Discovering Tukwila's parks through long walks
Discovering Tukwila’s parks through long walks

Portland, Oregon– This post documents our visit to Portland with a couple of stops in Washington.


Windom and Burnsville, Minnesota – We stopped in Minnesota staying in Burnsville, a suburb south of the Minnesota River. This was convenient to check up with friends and colleagues in Minneapolis and St. Paul that we had not seen for over a year.  While Wife and I visited my home town of Windom, our daughter camped out in the last remaining Big Woods area south of Northfield, Minnesota.

Coffee was a big part of this trip.
Coffee was a big part of this trip. Here at the River City Eatery (https://www.facebook.com/rivercityeatery) in Windom
Daughter camping with friend in the Big Woods
Daughter camping with friend in the Big Woods

Vancouver, British Columbia – We spent a week in the Mt Pleasant district of Vancouver, just south of the downtown area.  We explored our apartment and the vibrant multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community.

Interesting walls of apartments.
Interesting walls of apartments.
View from Mt Pleasant
View from Mt Pleasant
Tomando mate con mi mujer.
Tomando mate con mi mujer.
Interesting books, ordered by color.
Interesting books, ordered by color.
Apartment Cat with her buddy
Apartment Cat with her buddy

Beacon Hill, Seattle, Washington – Our last two weeks were spent here in a district just south of downtown Seattle.  It is walking distance to China town and the international district.  For longer trips, we used our passes on the Soundlink trains and Metro buses. My senior card was definitely worth it. Daughter returned to University.

Sound Link transit
Sound Link transit coming to Beacon Hill Tunnel

Our rootless life continues. New paths and new adventures seem to be more important than new places.

Seattle Summer

We are in Seattle for a few weeks. I’m sitting here at the Bauhaus Coffee and Books. I was going to say “back in Seattle,” as if this were home base. In a sense it is as we have been here before, and it is comfortable here. On the other hand, our return ticket says Seoul, Korea.

With so many activities available and things to see, this could be a travelogue. I feel more comfortable comparing this to a dull, short documentary film before the main feature. These are jottings from our life here. You, the dear reader, can create your great epic when you visit Seattle.

Here are some of the things we have done both touristy and insider.

Got library cards at the Foster Library in Tukwila. Learned that “Tukwila” derives from the Indian word for hazelnut. I feel I should eat Nutella everyday.

Stopped by the Iconic Seattle Library.


Walked the Des Moines marina during the opening of their Farmers Market for the season. Joined in the Georgetown Festival in South Seattle with some Rock, Punk, and European cabaret music. The power tool races were exciting. These are small racers using power tools, like drills or saws to provide speed. A couple of the vehicles were a cat carrier and a baby buggy filled with Barbie dolls.

  


Wandered around Pike Place Market, International District, and Sculpture Garden.

    
    
  


and had coffee in the Capitol Hill district. Rented a car for the weekend and stopped by the 3.14 (pi/pie) bakery.