Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grocery Stores are My Museums

by Lulu

When we travel, Harry loves to visit historical museums – particularly those with planes hanging from the ceiling.  But I think the best way to find out about the culture of a region is to visit their grocery stores.  I love going to Monoprix in France, Waitrose in England, and Lindl in Germany.  There was a great store next to our hotel in Maastricht in the Netherlands and Harry will admit he enjoyed the chocolate puddings complete with whipped cream for .19 euro.   There are products we don’t have here in the U.S. or they are packaged differently.  Some of the European stores have refrigerated shelves where they keep the dairy products that look like regular shelves.  Eggs aren’t refrigerated at all in England and in France there is more wine than soda.
But you don’t have to travel outside of the U.S. to experience different cultures.  I remember when I was teaching in Arizona how the supermarkets there devoted an entire aisle to salsa.  An even closer cultural phenomenon to us is the Piggly Wiggly.  There are two Piggly Wigglys in Blountstown, Florida on Route 20 about 40 miles away.  They are between Tallahassee and the beaches on the gulf coast so I must make a stop each time we go.  There are products there that you don’t see in other stores.  I always find something to buy.  We stopped on the way back from Panama City on Monday.  I bought some string beans to make with ham I had at home and also picked up a jar of “cranberry spread” which I had never seen before and I love cranberries.  I also bought some drink mix that is iced tea/lemonade/pomengranate.  That mix at Whole Foods would cost about 8 dollars but I paid $1.50.  You can see in the photos here of some other unique products that I didn’t buy. 
I first became aware of Piggly Wiggly in the movie, Driving Miss Daisy.  Miss Daisy was a wealthy older woman in Atlanta and had a black chauffer who drove her everywhere – including the Piggly Wiggly.  They are a southern tradition.  I found that there is a museum in Memphis that has an historical Piggly Wiggly replica:
Maybe Harry and I can both be happy with a stop there. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trip to Vadosta Georgia - Wild Adventures

Valdostians like to tell the story about the wild elephant. The circus used to "winter" in Valdosta in the old days. One day an elephant broke loose.  It ran up and down main street terrorizing the locals. The sheriff shot the elephant. 

About 70 miles north and east of Tallahassee is Valdosta GA. In the old days - it was a railroading center for the lumber and the cotton industries. Now it is famous for Wild Adventures - a budget water and theme park. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lulu's Birthday Was Sunday

We were home from Europe for only 24 hours - but time marches on. I had a little party for Lulu's July 12th birthday. About 20 neighbors showed up to enjoy - cake - ice cream - drinks - and snacks.  

Madrid - Last Night In Town With Flamenco

After the Flamenco Show - Friday night in Madrid

Friday night was our last night in Europe. Lulu wanted to see Flamenco dancers. We were sitting in a KFC - yes Kentucky Friend Chicken - in Madrid. It was the only place we could find with free wifi and free soda refills. Lulu was surfing the net and found a Flamenco Show that was only 1/4 mile away. The show was to start in 30 minutes.

We scurried over to find the place sold out. After much begging - and telling them we were going home the next day - they pulled out an extra table - put a table cloth on it - and we sat down in the middle of everything. It was a delightful show - and after a glass of sangria - everything was fine.

See the two videos below of the dancers.


We woke up at 7 AM Saturday to catch our plane home at 10 AM. After a quick ride to the airport - we asked if they needed volunteers to give up their seats for cash. They did not offer cash - but they did offer us a business class ticket with the bed and VIP service. We would have gotten home 3 hours later - but those tickets cost like $3500! Lulu had not had her coffee yet - and she was a little cranky. We turned it down.

After we ate some breakfast - Lulu started thinking it over - and would have taken the free business class bed tickets - but alas - when I asked again - they were not available any more. We had a nice flight home from 10 AM Saturday to 5:30 PM. The flight to Atlanta was 9 hours. But it was daylight all the way - we did not sleep - we watched movie - after movie - after movie. They fed us 3 times!

Marge was at the airport waiting for us in her Caddy. We were in the house by 6 PM.

17 days in Planes - Trains - Buses - Cabs - Scooters. Netherlands - Belgium - France - Spain .

Lulu stopped by this library. When she said she was a USA library professor - they gave her a wonderful tour.  The little panel trucks looks just like the one we eloped in - in 1971. Notice there is a guy inside it - with that big blind spot he back up and nearly nailed Lulu. 

My favorite seat in Madrid - overlooking the Plaza Del Sol - form the second floor of the KFC. Free soda refills - free wifi - good air conditioning. Lulu found our Flamenco Show here on her iPhone.

Friday, July 10, 2015

We Are Spending Our Last Two Days In Madrid

See Lulu along the fence in front of the Royal Palace. It was almost sunset here and still 100 degrees. Still - Madrid is pretty - and hot and dry is definitely nicer than hot and humid.

Madrid is a wonderful city even if the temperature was over 100 all day. As they say - it is a dry heat. It sucks the sweat right out of you - you never appear wet. Before you know it-  you drop over from dehydration.

Our train from Barcelona was about 3 hours. Some country big whigs go onto our car late - with all the body guards - etc. At the other end - another entourage was there to whisk them away.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Touring Barcelona - Just Two Days Left In Madrid - Then Home

Breakfast - I ordered a cup of hot chocolate - check it out. 

We spent all day Wednesday on a hop on / hop off bus tour of Barcelona. It is a giant cosmopolitan city of 1.5 million people - 3 million if you count the area. The Olympics of 1992 invigorated this city - they developed slums for the Olympics and they are now desired upscale housing along the beach. 

Harry's next toy - a Piaggio Ape - three wheeled truck - can be registered as a scooter

This bull arena has been turned into a 6 story mall.

Lots of meat markets

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Spain - Barcelona - Melia Sky Hotel For the Next 2 Nights

When we arrived in Barcelona - our trip was delayed by car falling from the highway and onto the railroad tracks ahead of us - we did not have a hotel booked. Lulu wanted something better than last night's place in Bordeaux. We got online in the station and she scored the Melia Sky Barcelone - a 4 star - for $101. It is near the Mediterranean Beach - we are on the 8th floor - we just got back from the stainless steel pool on the 6th floor. 

We took the train from the northwest corner of France all the way down the coast - skirted the Pyrenee Mountains - and ended up to Barcelona. We stopped in Nantes - Bordeaux - and Narbonne. 

We plan to stay in Barcelona 2 nights - then take a 2 hours train to Valencia - we will visit the FSU campus there - then will finished up in Madrid. We fly home from there on July 11th. 

Once we crossed the border into Spain we notice these gigantic new train stations - carved into the mountains underground. They are way over the top compared to anything we saw in France - Netherlands - etc. For how grand they are- they were not that busy. I am guessing it has something to do with the European Union upgrading Spain a little. 

The hotel is very modern - just like son Keith likes. Note the extra bed in the room. 

Spent Last Night In Bordeaux - In Route To Barcelona Now

Will be in Barcelona today - will stay 2 nights. Lulu is checking out 4 star hotels as I type.

We arrived in Bordeaux late last night and our room was tiny. It had a kitchen and bath but it was camper size.

Madrid is supposed to be 100 degrees all week. We spend our last 2 nights there.

Southern France is pretty but they have no idea what AC is.

We have 4 nights left. We have been sleeping really well.

We cross over into Spain shortly. We will skirt the Pyrenees along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.