Traveling While Sick: Tips & Observations

The morning of my flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Frankfurt, Germany I started an earnest sinus infection/summer cold. Here’s what I did right and what I would change if I had to do it all over again…

This is what worked well:

  • Scheduled 24-hour layover in new hotel
  • Hall’s cough drops in a carry-on bag
  • Advil in a carry-on bag
  • Z-pack antibiotics (proactively prescribed from fantastic nurse practitioner)
  • Giant bottle of water to take on the plane
  • Best carry-on bag design
  • Cash
  • Shopping in airport
  • Very-close-to-airport hotel

What I would change:

  • Type of hotel
  • Should have been located near some restaurants

So, I stayed at a sister brand hotel– it was really new, and really cute. Hip. Trendy. Lower cost. Here’s why:

  • No in-room coffee
  • No executive lounge
  • No room service
  • No restaurant
  • No wi-fi in room

I learned on this trip just how spoiled I am with a full-service hotel, meaning the big, full service with a restaurant, a snack room, an executive lounge, room service, coffee-at-will in my room. In these big hotels, I can work in the room, in the lounge, in the lobby, but in these trendy scaled down hotels, it is designed for a different crowd. Folks who have kids, don’t work from their room, are not spending any time in their room except to shower and to sleep.

So, I dragged myself around the coffee bar/check-in a few times during the day, looking so pathetic, the guest manager/clerk helped me microwave my soup, find the spoons, and made me coffee. I ended up sleeping throughout the day and night, recovering from the crud that had ushered me out of Africa.

Moxy Hotel, Frankfurt, Germany
Welcome to the 2nd Floor!

Note: I have found incredible hospitality at the hotels that I have stayed at — caring people, ready to help. Because I have been a road warrior, I have had several instances of being quite ill during my stays throughout the United States and Europe. Here’s a shout out to every room service person who helped me with hot water and lemon, disinfecting the bathroom [don’t ask], the folks in the restaurant who prescribed lime juice with salt for my throat so I could deliver training to a crowd, and proceeded to procure it for me from the kitchen, and I could go on…Everyone at these places deserves to be treated kindly and with respect. I love you all in the hospitality industry!!!!

 

Shout out to the room decor designers! This is what I was waking up to when I was so sick in Frankfurt, Germany at the Moxy Hotel.

cute boy mural

Socks: I love you

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Smart Wool socks

I really love good socks. I L-O-V-E socks. Everyone gets socks from me in their Christmas stockings, I look at socks online, in stores, and at booths, and I talk about socks all of the time. I really love quality socks. I know that a lot of people like funky designs on their socks and I like that too, but a well-engineered sock gets me excited!

A well-engineered sock has features–features that solve problems. After all, socks were invented to solve problems, right? Socks were invented to keep your foot from blistering in your shoes, as well as keeping your shoes from dying a pitiful, uncleanly death from foot perspiration.

A poorly-engineered sock is truly irritating, both literally and figuratively. Poorly-engineered socks have caused many toddler meltdowns from my oldest son who is now 34 years old, and I am still suffering PTSD over one of those episodes. They also twist on your feet while you are walking, or they slip down under your heel. They also make your foot uncomfortable because they are too small, or too large. The yarn that they are woven with might suddenly break, creating holes. The type of yarn might not provide breatheability, or warmth. The weight of the yarn as well as the pattern of the sock might be too thin, or too thick.

You can see that we don’t give sock designer-engineers enough thanks. A perfectly engineered sock should come in sizes — Germany does that particularly well. I can get a sock that is just right for my foot, for my husband’s foot, and my giant-of-a-middle son’s foot. I can’t easily do that in the U.S.

The U.S. does have an excellent wool sport sock that is washable and durable. I do absolutely love this brand of socks, and I in no way have been compensated to feature this brand. I love this brand because of how well it is engineered. After I sat on the plane next to a designer for this brand, I really started believing in this brand. It is a pricey sock for the average person, however, these socks are durable, comfortable, and convenient to use. All of those factors reduce the overall cost of this sock. The brand is local to Coloradoans, it is sold at Nordstrom as well as from their own boutiques and online. It is Smart Wool — the perfect name for this product.

I hurt my foot over a week ago here in South Africa, where it is winter, and chilly, and uncomfortable. Part of healing my foot is wearing my comforting Smart Wool socks. They provide support, warmth, and since I purchased them in happy colors and designs, they lift my spirits a little. Also, these socks aren’t the thick wool socks that won’t fit into your shoes. These socks fit, stretch, and launder. I have many other socks that I love, and maybe I will write about them — especially my cotton athletic socks from Germany. But right now, I am grateful for my comfy wool socks.

 

P.S. I will debrief my 5-week packing for this trip when I get home. Lessons learned and successes to celebrate!

 

Travel: One Suitcase – 5 Weeks, Pt. 2

Goal: two cities, five weeks, one suitcase (must weigh less than 50 lbs to win)

So, added to last week’s styles are sturdy clothes for winter in Johannesburg, with excursions to see lions, leopards, Victoria Falls (on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe), and I hope to see some elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and zebras as well as all manner of springbok and other deer. I will still be working and trying to find some great candid photos of some of the life in South Africa.

Fully Packed

It all fits! And I weighed the bag on my digital scale — 24 lbs! Of course, that is before beauty products. This exercise is helping me with my packing anxiety. At least for the short term.

So, for my trip to Frankfurt, and then the next four weeks in Joburg, I have added layers. Here’s the bullet list:

  • Cargo pants, heavy weight and ready to be destroyed
  • Camouflage print pants
  • African wax print skirt
  • Vintage yellow polo sweater
  • Yellow cardigan
  • Olive lightweight wool sweater
  • White T-shirt
  • White thin cotton turtleneck
  • Black T-shirt
  • Mauve T-shirt
  • Metallic tank sweater
  • White rain shell
  • Hiking boots
  • Birkenstocks
  • Black flip flops
  • Olive drab jacket with “flair”
  • Three scarves, one cotton gingham, one rayon, one polyester (all white background, with black and a hint of accent color)

I think that I might be doing at least one more adjustment…

Travel: One Suitcase-5 Weeks, pt. 1

White 'IT' Suitcase
This is the suitcase — not too big, but definitely a checked bag.

Goal: 1 suitcase for two cities, 5 weeks

Week 1 Frankfurt, Germany: Build around Brooks, Ltd. LoDo Shirt

This is the second blog planning my packing list for travel to Frankfurt, then on to Johannesburg, South Africa. I am using my inspiration shirt, named after Denver’s Lower Downtown, hence the ‘LoDo’ part of the shirt description. LoDo is where Brooks, Ltd. atelier is located and is also the part of town you see college students, out-of-towners, and business folks mingling together at restaurants and venues.

I might have mentioned that I have “packing anxiety” and that has driven me to plan this trip well in advance. So, I am testing out my one-suitcase bullet wardrobe plan, beginning with five ways to wear the LoDo shirt while working, drinking kaffee, and shopping in Frankfurt, Germany. Oh, and I should tell you, I am going to be eating like a German foodie.

Here’s the bullet list for 5 choices for the first week of five weeks on the road:

  • Lilac cotton zip-front LoDo shirt, that doubles as a lightweight jacket
  • Navy slim-legged pants (J. Crew)
  • Black leggings
  • Jeans
  • Silk floral shell — vintage from the 80s
  • White lightweight cotton turtleneck (think of the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give’)
  • Black vintage Chanel Logo T-shirt (best all around T-shirt ever)
  • Black ballet neck tea-length dress
  • Black waterproof loafers (Hunter)
  • Black logo tennis shoes (Coach)
  • Silk print scarf
  • Black scarf
  • Rhinestone necklace (J. Crew)

These five choices easily fit into the suitcase with plenty of room for next week’s challenge– 4 weeks in Johannesburg!

LoDoShirt Week 1_04172018

Flugente [Duck] Preparation Results

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Flugente, prepared as discussed at the Farmer’s Market in Dornbusch, Frankfurt, Germany.

I had a great time preparing my Flugente [Duck] yesterday and have a list of Things I Learned. First, let me say, the recipe that was shared with me was spot on as far as flavors were concerned. The onion/apple fragrance filled the apartment, then the addition of the duck to the dutch over, took everything to a new level of homey goodness. As I have a terrible habit of trying several new processes at once, I added onto the cooking of this dish the videoing of the process, which, when I have it edited down, I will also provide. So, overall, the dish was a success, my hubby and I ate it with relish, with mostly positive observations. Here is the list of Things I Learned Yesterday:

Negatives

  1. Duck fat should be reserved for Duck Confit, not slished down the drain while you are hurrying for your next video shot. Money wasted about $12 worth of duck fat.
  2. Realizing that you should have saved something when you are just pouring the last spoonful down the drain is priceless. Too bad the forehead slapping and self-loathing were not caught on camera.
  3. Duck is NOT like chicken. One negative phrase regarding the duck skin was “rubbery” and another phrase was, “well, you only really eat the duck breast”….

Positives

  1. Bratapfel liqueur is marvelous! Use it to soak some fresh apple slices to use for garnish, as you might see on the video. Use it in the sauce, it creates the most lovely compliment to duck. I can’t wait to use it over cinnamon ice cream and in some sort of a torte recipe.
  2. Duck is a beautiful dark meat and has a somewhat earthier flavor than chicken. It is also darker in its’ breast than a goose. There are some other techniques for cooking duck that I will try next time to crisp up the skin.
  3. Farmer’s Market is known as Bauern Markt in Deutsche. It is also the easiest way, next to going to the specialty shops, to get the freshest meat, poultry, and produce. They are held weekly and year round.
  4. Videoing with your phone and selfie stick isn’t as simple as you might think. Kudos to all of the great How-To video producers that I see on Instagram!

 

Frankfurt: Dornbusch Farmer’s Market

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Flugente very frisch! It’s what’s for dinner tonight!

Today, regardless of the calendar, felt like autumn, Herbst in Deutsch. The clouds settled in yesterday and the dip in temperature and the crunch of dead leaves left no one in doubt of the season. I have been here for nine, almost ten months; waiting for autumn, my favorite season.

Although I have been trying to live every “American in Europe” cliche, today was the first day that I did my shopping, my main shopping on foot, in a local farmer’s market, in our neighborhood. Yes, I have shopped at the big farmer’s market in Konstablerwache, but mostly to take photos and eat waffles. Today, I was armed with a loose idea of a menu:

  1. Poultry
  2. Vegetable
  3. Fruit

I didn’t expect more than four or five rickety stands set up. I thought that there wouldn’t be many people. Ha! There were easily twice or even thrice that many vendors and not one of them in a rickety stand, well, maybe one. Instead, there were highly evolved, refrigerated cases that are part of the trucks themselves. There was fresh fish from one vendor, fresh beef and pork from another. There was a wall of rotisserie chickens roasting happily at one booth. The vegetables were a colorful palette of greens, purples, reds, and orange. Large vegetable stands, at least four of them, renewed my faith in farm-to-table. As I ambled down the center of the street, I saw another refrigerated case, a long, well stocked poultry case. In it was this beautiful bird, labeled flugente. This bird was whispering to me, “cook me”, so I asked in my preschool German, ” Sprechen Sie English? Was is das?”

He said it was “a duck, very frisch!”

“How fresh?” I asked.

“Yesterday night.”

I had hit it. The holy Grail of optimum ingredients. And this, in Dornbusch, after my incredible weekend in Paris.

So, that is how I ended up with the freshest “duck”, [personally, I think it’s a goose], for our dinner. But how to prepare it?

I asked the poultry vendor and a little woman three people down, took over. She started describing a recipe with zwiebeln to anyone who would listen. I know that “zwiebeln” means “onions” and I turned to her and she turned to me, said her English wasn’t that good, and then described how to cook this bird.

Flugente Recipe, by a friendly older woman at the Farmer’s Market

“Onions in fett til tey are soft. Bird in pan and some wasser. Cook til da string runs clear, is det right? string?” She motioned with her hands.

“Juices” I added, then nodded my head for her to continue.

“Then add some Calvados and some cream to deh pan.” She made a whisking motion with her hands.
I nodded. “Got it.” I also squeezed my eyes shut and sighed. Heaven. She continued,

“You can add some apple to the onions, not too much, but to balance. Keep it in the pan.”

Have I said it before? “I love Germany!”

I will post a photo of the end result tomorrow.

1Q 2016 Now that I’ve Survived the Move

I have survived the stress of moving to Germany. Stress listed below:

  1. Packing
  2. Jet lag
  3. Unpacking
  4. Technology set up and streamlined
  5. Learning my new phone number
  6. Mostly learning my new address
  7. Starting to learn a new language
  8. Finding a warm enough coat

The easiest parts:

  1. Apartment, no yard work
  2. Taking bus to language class
  3. Walking to store 2x per week
  4. Using ATM
  5. Taking U-bahn (equivalent to the El in Chicago)

I have discovered that cobblestones come in various strengths. There’s mostly smooth walkways, well-worn and not-level cobblestones, and brutal ragged jagged poorly spaced cobblestones. Good news: our American athletic shoes are in fashion over here finally! Still many folks who don’t wear them, but plenty of teens do. I like to double gel insert my shoes when traveling to the small towns–I’m just sayin’.

The food here also comes in three types: really yummy, meh, and gross. We had a perfectly great dinner at a restaurant, but had ordered the traditional cheese as a “Vorspeise”  or appetizer. It was the texture of paraffin, in a cold watery i-don’t-know-what liquid, with finely chopped white onions over the top. The waiter stood there watching us take our first bite.

The look on my face. That’s why he was watching us take our first bite. Apparently, everyone gets that look of repulsion and horror when they bite into that cheese. I couldn’t keep chewing. I couldn’t spit it out, being diplomatic and all, but I couldn’t keep it in my mouth. That’s how he, the waiter, gets amusement throughout the long winter evenings. He then admitted that he couldn’t eat it and rarely meets anyone who can.

Wine is amazing here and I am talking about the wine that you buy for three to four euros. It’s great, I’m spoiled.

The bread here is on another level from the bread we get at the grocery store in Colorado. And I’m talking about the good bakery bread from Whole Foods. This is just, well, baked fresh in front of you, hand braided, using incredible versions of wheat, rye, and every other whole grain known to man. One of my favorite rolls to buy is a pretzel braid covered in poppy seeds. I could eat one right now. And again for dinner. And again for breakfast. But breakfast, in hour apartment, is reserved for the German version of raisin bread. Roisinen Brot. It has extra yummy citron pieces in it that wake up your taste buds and it goes great with dark black coffee. It absolutely must be toasted just beyond golden brown to bring out the flavors.

Have I gained some weight you ask? Well, not much, due to the walking everywhere on cobblestones. Thank the good Lord.

Speaking of the good Lord. We have found a beautiful little church located on a lovely park, with the charm and ritual that the Church of England and the Episcopalians use for worship. More importantly, this small church has amazing music. They have a pipe organ and the choir sings beautiful classical Bach numbers– that shouldn’t be possible at this little congregation, but there they were. Our walk there is only 10 minutes, past the duck pond, over the bridge, just absolutely idyllic. Anyway, we found out why the choir is so amazing. It has several members who sing for the Frankfurt opera.

After Sunday service, we walk through the park, see the geese and the lone gosling, on our way to eating outside at a dumpy, but relaxing dining establishment. We’ve had really good food there for the past two weeks and as we pass all of the little gardening plots we see flowers and many other signs of spring. And graffiti.

The graffiti covers everything in Frankfurt. Sheds, buildings, backs of signs, walls, fences. Everything. Is. Covered. In. Graffiti.