Copenhagen has been fun

We enjoyed our visit to Copenhagen.  It is a lovely city with warm and friendly people.  Everyone rides bikes.2018 copenhagen bike 5x7 netWe rode the hop on hop off bus around the city and saw the distinctive brick architecture; 2018 copenhagen tower 5x7and the dome of the marble church.2018 Copenhagen marble church 5x7Of course there is water everywhere, and the canals are a lovely way to see the city by the water.2018 Copenhagen canal 5x7Now we are getting ready to board our ship, the Regal Princess,  with our family for a  Baltic cruise.  Oslo, Norway is our next port of call.  Bon Voyage.

We fly to Copenhagen today

We are off to Copenhagen today from LAX.  Our dear son and his love will be taking care of the house and doggie.  We will be on a family cruise to the Baltic states starting next Saturday.  So excited about going back to this part of Europe.  Because we will be on a cruise ship and there is very little internet I will be posting when I can.  I am sure I will have lots of photos to post of our adventures.

 

After the cruise we will be going to London to begin to pet and house sit in England for 3 months.  It will be fun to meet new people and to resit for 2 of our families from last year.  Bon Voyage and I will be posting soon.

Our RV relocation experience; what you need to know

We met a lot of very nice people, particularly in connection with our flat tire the first morning, which happened to be a Saturday.
After our first night on the road we woke to this flat tire.  RV flat tireRVs nowadays don’t have spare tires, which came as a surprise to the RV service support line you’re supposed to call if you have a problem. Practically, this matters a lot, as service trucks are equipped to change tires, not repair them. As it happened in our case, we were only two miles from town, so the driver took off the tire, took it to his shop and repaired it, and brought it back in under two hours. If we’d been a hundred miles farther west in the middle of South Dakota, this would have been a very long delay.  Between the late start and having to deal with the flat tire we lost one day of our time to drive to Las Vegas.
The screw we found in the tire was identical to a couple we found loose in the RV. Just sayin’ it could have been “supplied” in the pickup lot of the factory.
When I booked this adventure, and again when we picked up the RV, I asked if roadside assistance was included, and was told that it was. So I didn’t extend our AAA coverage to include RVs. Turns out, “it’s included” means “we arrange it, but you pay for it.”
Apollo ( the rental company that purchased the RVs and for whom we were locating them) has a great business model for preventing giving you a credit. They collect $1000 as a deposit, not just a hold but an actual charge, and refund it at the end. So you have to pay for the tire repair, and there is no way they’re gonna give you any credit for that, or the loss of the extra day you bought. In fact, their logic about the latter was “Well, you got 10 days for $1 each and 2 days for $145 each. That’s $25 a day average, I can give you that…”
We picked up the RV on a Friday. Although we arrived at 11am, there were dozens of parties also picking up their RVs and we didn’t get done until about 4pm. The briefing was … brief. The water tank had never been filled or tested. You know, the one they say to sanitize and flush before use. The sewer hose was stuck in the carrier, and without fittings. The holding tank valves hadn’t been closed, so when we tested the drains, water ran out. But the A/C and heater worked, the slides didn’t get stuck, and 90% of the cabinet and drawer hardware was correctly installed and stayed shut.  Sometimes going around corners the fridge door would suddenly open and the contents would crash to the floor.
The RV was a Winnebago Outlook 27D, which uses a Ford E450 base and got about 7.5 mpg overall. Driving it varied from very smooth, on a good road with no wind and under 60mph,  to a highly stressful experience when all those conditions were reversed and you’re being passed by a semi at 80mph, in which case it feels like you’re driving a 27-foot sail.  There are a lot of roads in the midwest with 80mph speed limits. I never felt safe much above 72, so there were lots of times when those semis were charging past.  Plus if you have 3 people as we did, the third person is seat belted behind the table.  The seat is very uncomfortable for an adult as you are tossed around a lot and cannot see out the front window.
Wal-Mart is everywhere, and a great resource to RVers, because they sell EVERYTHING in one place (except, oddly, alcohol in Wyoming, for which you have to go next door), there’s always easy parking for huge vehicles, and the price is right.
Here’s our summary opinion of the RV experience: it was nice for a national park experience when you’re planning to spend a few days, and the alternatives are tenting or $350 lodge rooms.  Wow, at $14.08 a night, the senior rate in Yellowstone is unbeatable, even without any hookups. But driving it is kind of a pain, so it’s not so great for the road-trip experience, where you have to move 300 miles a day. We could also see that this mode would be stressful during summer, when RV parks fill up. Even in mid-May, it isn’t “the season” yet in Yellowstone, and places weren’t too hard to find along the way.

A cross-country relocation RV trip

We have always wanted to take an RV ( recreational vehicle) to see if we would like to purchase one.  An opportunity came up to relocate a new RV from Iowa to Las Vegas for $1 a day plus gas in 10 days, sounded like a dream come true.  We took this trip from May 4 to May 16.   We include my sister Sandi in this trip. We flew into Minneapolis and drove to Forest City, Iowa to pick up the RV.  RV photo I will not talk about the particulars of how the trip went as David has promised to deliver one of his data packed posts to fill you in on the details and the actual costs of the trip.  What I will say is that we had a great time in the places that we stayed, but there was way too much driving for me inspite of the fact that we purchased 2 extra days at $150 per day to extend the time.

The first place we stopped at was Mount Rushmore.  It was quite inspiring.  None of us had been there before and we enjoyed the spectacular mountain carvings.mt rushmore heads 5x7We then drove to Yellowstone National Park.  This was my favorite part of the trip.  The park was still snowy in places and the animals had just had babies.  The hot springs and geysers were stunningly beautiful.  Here are some photographs.

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Moma buffalo and baby Red dog

 

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Dave on right checking into Madison Campground

 

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Yellowstone hot pool

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Sandi and David

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Old Faithful

We spent 3 days here and it was wonderful.

We then moved South through Jackson Hole.  It was so cold and rainy there we only stayed overnight and then headed south to Bryce Canyon.

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Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons

Bryce was sunny and warm.  It is hard to capture the magnificence of the rock formations in photographs, but I tried.

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Bryce Canyon

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Linda & Sandi on the Bryce Canyon Lodge porch

We drove to Las Vegas the next day , spent the night and returned the RV in the morning.  Rented a car and drove home.  I was so happy to sleep in my king size bed with my honey that night.

Doing some Pet sitting in California

We took care of two sweet kitties last month for a week near La Jolla, California. Here is a photo of Eddie. _DSC0597 It was a nice break from the house and the routine.  The sea lions, seals and cormorants were all having babies in La Jolla this February.  We drove down to see them.  Here are some sea lions who are lying on the rocks in the sun.  sea lions la jolla Feb 2018 netsea lion nursing feb 2018And here is a mom still nursing her pup.

Here is a photograph of a cormorant sitting on her just hatched babies.  I love seeing new born  animals in a natural environment. bandt cormornds nest feb 2018 netThis is an interesting adjunct to pet sitting in Europe.  There are people in the USA who want pet sitters too.  We have another pet sit lined up for Portland next month for 6 days with 2 sweet kitties.

I am lining up our summer pet sitting schedule and it is almost finished.  We have two people that we sat for last summer who we will sit for again.  Plus 4 other new people to meet and some new pets to love.  We will go on the Baltic cruise then pet sit until the beginning of Oct.  It should be another fun summer.

Good bye Paris we leave with a gift of a nasty cold

 

Well, you have not heard from me in a while. We are home in California now and I need to catch you up on our travels. The last four days in Paris, I came down with a nasty cold. Really bad words, I wasted most of four days in bed trying to get better before we had to travel to Barcelona on a 6.5 hour train ride. I did not think that our train companions would enjoy hearing me coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose for all 6 hours.
We got to Barcelona at night and had the next two days to see the Sagrada Familia basilica and Montserrat before boarding Norwegian Epic to sail home to Florida.

So let’s start with Paris; I loved this city. I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and many other stunning works of art. louvre mona lisa 5x7 netNot to mention the architecture of the Louvre, the glass pyramid and all the other buildings that have been there for centuries (the Louvre was formerly a palace).Paris Louvre pryamids 5x7 net

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Medieval work of art at the Louvre

I also went to an exhibit of a turn of the century dress designer called Fortuny. He created dresses from tiny pleats that could be rolled up and shaken out and worn.fortuny dress 5x7 net

We visited two of my favorite, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house his relics from the Holy Land. The royal chapel upstairs has an amazing set of medieval stained glass windows.sainte chapelle 5x7 net

 

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Angels holding the crown of thorns

Notre Dame is a famous and wonderful medieval church. We were able to go to Mass there on Sunday.Notre Dame outside 5x7 net

We took a river cruise on the Seine. It is a tourist thing to do, but worth it to see Paris from where the city began 1,000 years ago.Seine boats 5x7 net

The last night I pulled myself out of bed and we went to have a French dinner under the Eiffel Tower. It was so romantic to sit at the base of the tower and see it shining  in the night.Eiffel tower lights 5x7 net

 

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Linda eating dinner in Paris

 

The next day we were packed and went off to the Gare De Lyon train station to catch our TGV (very fast train) to Barcelona. I will talk about our two days in Barcelona and the ship in the next blog.

Medication Management on Long Trips in Europe

If you’re going to be away from the US for more than three months, you’ll have to give some thought to how you’re going to get your maintenance medications refilled. What doesn’t occur to you until you get sick overseas is the need to give some thought to your usual OTC remedies.
Together, Linda and I take four maintenance medications, and I managed to get them synced up so that the refills all occur at about the same time. Generally, with mail order pharmacies, you can ask for a refill two-thirds of the way through the prescribed quantities (e.g. after 60 days for a 90-day refill).
Mail order pharmacies won’t ship overseas, so you’ll need a stateside helper for this.  For some plans that permit it, it might be easier to get 90-day refills at a local pharmacy rather than the mail order one. This will reduce wait times by a few days.
Once your helper has the meds, they can be repackaged in a small box or envelope if necessary. We sent the four prescriptions to Europe (once to Ireland and twice to the UK) for $13.50 each time, and it took 5 to 9 calendar days to be delivered. On the customs declaration, we put “prescription refills” and a value of $25, and there were no problems, at least in these countries.
Because of the shipping delay, you will need to identify a place where you can receive the item, and where it might arrive before you do. I asked our pet-sitting hosts for their postal address and permission to do this, and it all worked out well.

By the way, lens.com will send contact lenses overseas for $30, and without having to check with your eye doctor. They have a UK branch so it might be quicker to get them that way, or even to pop into a local optical shop. But they might not have your brand in another country.

What about OTC items?

We were planning a trip of seven months, and that meant about 400 multivitamin tablets, 400 fish oil capsules, and 200 glucosamine tabs. I brought a full bottle of Sam’s Club vitamins (350, I think), the 200-count bottle of fish oil with almost 1000 mg of omega-whatevers, and the remainder of my big bottle of glucosamine. These are fairly big bottles. In Europe, you will not find huge bottles of any medication, and I did not find fish oil with much over 400 gm of the omega oils. I knew I could get these at Boots, though, and decided to settle for those. Sending refills of these in separate shipments would be more expensive, and because of the quantities might not be permitted. By the way, everything should be sent in its original labeled container.
But wait: what if you get sick? What do you use? Most of it is hard to find in Europe, where they customarily use different medicines. You might want to think about:
• Acetominophen (Tylenol): it’s called paracetamol in Europe, and is available only in small quantities (30-60) at a wide variety of prices.

• Ibuprofen (Advil): it’s called ibuprofen or a variation of that, and also available in 30-60 packs at more than you’d expect to pay.

• Decongestant: we use pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) which (in the US) you now have to buy from the pharmacist and give your name, etc. This is to prevent its diversion to the manufacture of meth. In Europe, they don’t sell the pure form, it’s already blended with paracetamol or ibuprofen and usually liquid.

• Antihistamine: they have generic Zyrtec, which goes by a variety of names, and is inexpensive.

• Cough suppressant: There’s no pint bottle of Robitussin like we buy at Costco. I have found tablet dextromethorphine (DM). There are syrups but the taste will not be familiar, to say the least, and the active ingredient is something else. I don’t like to experiment when I’m not feeling well. Bring some DM.

• Expectorant: In the US, this is guiafenesin, which is the main ingredient in Robitussin and Mucinex. Not generally available, although they knew what it was. They offered a tablet equivalent, called ambroxol, which we found just as effective and it’s a much smaller pill.

• Low-dose aspirin: Remarkably, aspirin is a prescription drug a lot of places. There is controversy about whether a daily aspirin is a good idea or not. Bring the 250-count bottle from Costco if your doctor has you on these.

• Melatonin: I’ve seen it, but not with the dosage varieties we have in the US. I’d bring it.

• “Advil PM” or “Tylenol PM”: these sleep aids are either acetaminophen or ibuprofen with Benadryl, whose generic name is diphenhydramine. Not available, although straight diphenhydramine is.

Pharmacies in Europe

On the continent, anything that goes into your body and isn’t food has to be bought at a pharmacy. These vary from tiny to medium, but there is nothing approaching a Walgreens. In cities, there will be at least one pharmacy open at all times, usually on a rotating schedule, and in some countries, like Italy, there will be a sign in the window of the closed pharmacy telling you where the nearest open one is.
In the UK, you will find some OTC meds in larger grocery stores, but any of the ones mentioned above will still need to be bought from a pharmacy. The biggest one is Boots, and they are even in very small villages.
We have always found the pharmacists to be very well qualified. They are permitted to give a little more medical advice than US pharmacists, and some can even prescribe. Almost all spoke enough English, whatever the country. Take the package from whatever you need more of.

Bring your pill-cutter if you have one.